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Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer

Joe Smith

Joe Smith became the Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times in 2014. He spent the previous six years splitting time covering the Rays, Bucs and Lightning He joined the Times in 2006 after spending two years with the Modesto Bee in California, where he did everything from covering the Single-A Modesto Nuts minor league baseball team and high school football to tackling first-person stories on whitewater rafting and adventure racing. Smith grew up in the Detroit suburbs and attended the University of Michigan, where he covered the football, basketball and hockey teams for the Michigan Daily. He freelanced for the Associated Press and Detroit Free Press before securing internships at Crain's Detroit Business and the Raleigh News & Observer. An avid runner, Smith loves traveling, bowling and singing karaoke.

Phone: (813) 310 9024



Lightning Strikes

  1. Lightning ready to respond in Game 7


    Much has been made about the reslience of the battle-tested Rangers, who are 15-3 in elimination games since 2012, and 7-0 in Game 7s at home.

    "It seems like they always step up at the right moment and everyone is on their game when they need it the most," said D Anton Stralman, a former Ranger.

    But as the Lightning enters Friday's Game 7 against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, it enters with confidence having "been there" before, too, learning a lot from its Game 7 victory over Detroit in the first round....

    Victor Hedman said that Game 7 against Detroit was "huge" for this young team, realizing how it has to play to be successful with its back against the wall.
  2. Stanley Cup Final to begin Wednesday


    The Stanley Cup Final will begin Wednesday, June 3, the NHL announced today.

    So if the Lightning were to win Game 7 against the Rangers Friday night and advance, it'd either open the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday in Anaheim, or at Amalie Arena against Chicago.

    The Ducks and Blackhawks play in Game 7 Saturday in Anaheim. The Lightning would have home-ice advantage with Chicago, not with Anaheim....

  3. Flu symptoms hit Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — Coach Jon Cooper said having a two-day break before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final would be much welcomed for his Lightning team to get healthy.

    And it looks like the Lightning needs it.

    LW Alex Killorn confirmed Wednesday that several teammates have been dealing with flu symptoms this week. D Braydon Coburn was the only confirmed case, forcing him to miss a large part of Sunday's Game 5 against the Rangers. C Tyler Johnson and LW Ondrej Palat did not participate in Tuesday's optional morning skate before Game 6. Both played in the 7-3 loss that evened the series at three games and forced Friday's Game 7....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17), center, attacks New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) at the net while New York Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle (93) attempts to defend during the first period of Friday's (5/22/15) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers for game four of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Lightning: Mayor-on-mayor taunting; two views of Game 7

    Lightning Strikes

    Gift of the day

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman (left) sent out a friendly Twitter message to Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, reminding him that he'll have a personalized Lightning jersey waiting for him "to wear the next time we have dinner" in the wake of the Lightning eliminating the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

    View from Tampa Bay...

  5. Lightning players dealing with flu bug


    Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the two days before Game 7 will be a much-welcomed break to get healthy.

    And it looks like there's a good reason for that, as wing Alex Killorn confirmed today that several players are dealing with a flu-bug. Defenseman Braydon Coburn missed part of Game 5 because of it. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat didn't participate in Tuesday's morning skate, but played....

    Defenseman Braydon Coburn missed part of Game 5 because of a flu bug.
  6. Lightning falls to Rangers, must win another Game 7 to advance to Stanley Cup final (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — For all the growth the Lightning has shown throughout this playoff run, one key aspect it hasn't completely figured out is how to close out a series.

    It took the Lightning three games to finish off the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals. And now after uncharacteristically unraveling in Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the Rangers in Game 6 of the conference final, Tampa Bay must head back to New York for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Friday night at Madison Square Garden....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) loses his stick as Alex Killorn (17) goes down with the New York Rangers scoring to go up 3 to 1during third period action of game six of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (5/26/15).
  7. Lightning's Ryan Callahan breaks his goal drought (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Before Sunday's Game 5 in New York, Lightning coach Jon Cooper predicted RW Ryan Callahan would break his postseason scoring drought. It turns out Cooper was off by a game.

    Callahan ended his slump Tuesday in the Lightning's 7-3 loss in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final against the Rangers with a breakaway goal on a power play in the first period. The former Rangers captain took a pass from D Anton Stralman and made a move on G Henrik Lundqvist, backhanding a shot in for his first playoff goal since May 19, 2013, when Callahan was with the Rangers....

    Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan brings joy to his teammates as well as himself after scoring in the first period of Game 6, his first playoff goal since 2013.
  8. Lighting: Stamkos' favorite omelet; some fans are animals

    Lightning Strikes

    Egg it up

    Many Lightning players were asked about what was on their mind Tuesday morning, being one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup final. C Steven Stamkos quipped he was thinking about the omelet he'd have for breakfast: "Little bacon, tomatoes, assortment of peppers and a little cheese. All organic, of course."

    These fans are animals

    The Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa showed its support for the Lightning, posting on Twitter photographs of animals including a penguin and a snake posing with Lightning signs: "@TBLightning fans come in all shapes & sizes! #GoBolts from your friends @LowryParkZoo."...

    DETROIT, MI - MARCH 28: Brenden Morrow #10 of the Tampa Bay Lightning watches the action from the bench during a NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings on March 28, 2015 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Wings defeated the Lightning 4-0 (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
  9. Lightning gets a lift as Steven Stamkos hits his stride at exactly the right time

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Before these playoffs, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos got some key advice from a Hall of Famer.

    General manager Steve Yzerman, who won three Stanley Cups as the Red Wings' iconic captain, told Stamkos that the postseason "never goes according to plan."

    "Expect the unexpected," Yzerman said. "It takes time to get going. Rely on your teammates to pick up the slack. I said, 'As the captain of the team, just keep plugging right along.' And that's what he's done."...

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn's  (55) third period goal putting the Lightning up 1-0 during game 7 on Wednesday (4/29/15) between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa. Times photo DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD

  10. Lightning shuts out Rangers, one win from Stanley Cup final (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — Captain Steven Stamkos pointed out a "harsh reality" before Sunday's Game 5 against the Rangers.

    "Some guys in this room may never get the chance to get this far again," he said.

    Stamkos' message was simple: embrace the moment, leave it all on the line.

    And the Lightning did just that in a 2-0 victory, pulling within one win of playing for the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay took a 3-2 series lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final....

    Captain Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat are ready for a hug after teaming up for a power-play goal in the second period to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead. Stamkos scores in his fourth straight game.
  11. Stamkos extends his hot streak (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — The "Triplets" line carried the Lightning during the first two rounds of the playoffs.

    But captain Steven Stamkos is heating up, making the Lightning a more dangerous two-line team.

    Stamkos scored again in Sunday's 2-0 Game 5 win in the Eastern Conference final against the Rangers, giving him goals in four straight games, which ties a franchise playoff record also held by Vinny Lecavalier (2007) and Marty St. Louis (2003)....

    Steven Stamkos finishes a tic-tac-toe passing play with a power-play goal that gives the Lightning a 2-0 Game 5 lead.
  12. Lightning: A harsh reality; things are getting testy

    Lightning Strikes

    Quote of the day

    "The harsh reality is, some guys in this room may never get the chance to get this far again. We are so close, and we worked so hard to get here, it would be a waste not to leave it all on the line."

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (right), on embracing being so close to the Stanley Cup final

    Getting testy

    Rangers RW Kevin Hayes traded verbal jabs with Lightning C Tyler Johnson in Friday's Game 4 of the conference final, then snuck in a slash to the All-Star's stomach in the third period. Why the scuffles? "It's just how the game went," Hayes told "You play each other seven times in about 14 days, you get sick of one another."...

  13. Lightning putting focus on defensive end


    With two of the highest scoring teams in the league meeting up in this Eastern Conference Final, there was expected to be some offensive firepower.

    But the fact the winning team has scored five or more goals in each of the last three games isn't exactly how the Lightning and Rangers drew this one up.

    "Eventually it will probably calm down," coach Jon Cooper said." But I'm sure (coach Alain Vigneault) and I are probably losing a few follicles. But the fans out there are probably having one heck of a time watching the games....

    Ben Bishop has allowed five goals in back to back games for the first time since 2011.
  14. Lightning needs more secondary scoring


    Veteran wing Ryan Callahan, who racked up 24 goals in the regular season, hasn't scored a goal in the first 16 games of these playoffs.

    But coach Jon Cooper bets that ends in Game 5.

    "Probably tonight's the night he's going to score," Cooper said. "Because he does that on big stages."

    Either way, the Lightning could use some more secondary scoring if it wants to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. While the Triplets (Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat) have carried the Lightning, tallying 25 of the 42 goals, and Steven Stamkos' line has heated up as of late, Tampa Bay doesn't have a goal from the bottom-six forwards since Game 2 against Montreal....

    Ryan Callahan, who racked up 24 goals in the regular season, hasn't scored a goal in the first 16 games of these playoffs.
  15. Matt Carle could be available tonight


    Veteran defenseman Matt Carle was back on the ice Sunday for the morning skate, and there's a chance he returns for tonight's Game 5.

    "I think he's going to be available," coach Jon Cooper said.

    Carle missed Game 4 after suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 3 in a collision with the Rangers' Derek Stepan midway through the first period.

    "I didn't see him at all," Carle said. "It was a blindside hit."...

    Matt Carle missed Game 4 after suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 3 in a collision with the Rangers' Derek Stepan midway through the first period.