Clear64° FULL FORECASTClear64° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Email: joesmith@tampabay.com

Blogs:

Lightning Strikes

link
  1. Tyler Johnson unsure of status tonight

    Blog

    While Lightning center Tyler Johnson participated in today's morning skate - including taking part in the line rushes - he still remained uncertain whether he'd be able to play tonight against the Hurricanes.

    Johnson, 24, the team's leading scorer, has dealt with a lower-body injury since Jan. 12, re-aggravating it Jan. 20. The five days off during the All-Star break helped, including passing on the All-Star game....

    Tyler Johnson, the Lightning's leading scorer, has dealt with a lower-body injury since Jan. 12, re-aggravating it Jan. 20.
  2. Tyler Johnson questionable for Lightning's Tuesday game

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning was a little encouraged to see center Tyler Johnson back on the ice for Monday's practice, considering he missed Sunday's All-Star Game with a lingering lower-body injury.

    But coach Jon Cooper made it clear there's no guarantee Johnson plays tonight in Carolina.

    "Don't read into anything," Cooper said. "He'll be a game-time decision at best."

    Johnson, 24, the Lightning's leading scorer, suffered the injury Jan. 12 in Philadelphia, forcing him to miss the next game in Boston. Johnson played the final three games before the All-Star break but re-aggravated the injury late in the first period Jan. 20, when Vancouver's Alexander Edler tripped him....

    Lightning center Tyler Johnson aggravated a lingering lower-body injury last week.
  3. Tyler Johnson a game-time decision vs. Carolina

    Blog

    The Lightning was a little encouraged to see center Tyler Johnson back on the ice for Monday's practice, considering he missed Sunday's All-Star game due to a lingering lower-body injury.

    But coach Jon Cooper made it clear there's no guarantee Johnson plays Tuesday night in Carolina.

    "Don't read into anything," Cooper said. "He'll be a game-time decision at best."

    Johnson, 24, the Lightning's leading scorer, said the five days of rest helped his injury, which he suffered Jan. 12 in Philadelphia and reaggravated in Jan. 20 game against Vancouver. But it's still "there," which is why he pulled out of the All-Star game. Johnson did enjoy the festivities, though....

  4. Why doesn't NHL market Steven Stamkos better?

    Lightning Strikes

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos seemingly has it all.

    He is one of the best hockey players in the world. He has looks, personality. Plus, he's humble.

    "As far as being likeable as an athlete, Steven is off the charts," said the NHL's chief marketing officer, Brian Jennings. "He's a terrific young guy."

    Then why hasn't Stamkos, 24, a marketer's dream, been promoted more by the league? Though Stamkos has established himself on the ice — a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner as the league's top goal scorer — he enters tonight's All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, with a small national profile. He's not even one of the four players on the cover of the game program. ...

    Steven Stamkos
  5. Steven Stamkos hopes to sign new Lightning deal

    Lightning Strikes

    It's no secret that captain Steven Stamkos loves playing in Tampa and for the Lightning.

    But Friday, Stamkos, 24, made his strongest indication yet that he plans to stay with the Lightning long term. He said at the NHL All-Star Game media day in Columbus, Ohio, that he hopes to sign a contract extension this summer, one year before he could become an unrestricted free agent.

    Stamkos can't sign until July 1....

    COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 23:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning speaks during Media Availability for the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend at the Nationwide Arena on January 23, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 532637575
  6. Lightning's Jonathan Drouin set for NHL skills competition

    Lightning Strikes

    Lightning rookie wing Jonathan Drouin enjoyed watching the All-Star Skills Competition as a kid.

    Saturday, he'll be a part of it.

    Drouin, 19, was one of six rookies selected to participate in the event (7 p.m., NBCSN) which is a precursor to Sunday's All-Star game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. He said his parents will be in the stands to see it.

    "It's exciting to be a part of it, all those great players that will be there," Drouin said. "It's going to be a fun couple days."...

    Jonathan Drouin was one of six rookies selected to participate in the All-Star Skills Competition. [Getty Images]
  7. Steven Stamkos says "plan" is to sign extension with Lightning

    Blog

    It's no secret that captain Steven Stamkos loves playing in Tampa, and for the Lightning.

    Stamkos, drafted No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay in 2008, has become the face of the franchise. And on Friday, Stamkos, 24, made his strongest comments yet that he plans to stay with the Lightning for a long time.

    Stamkos said at All-Star media day in Columbus that he envisions signing an extension this summer, one year before he'd become an unrestricted free agent, like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane did with Chicago....

  8. Lightning heads into break on high after topping Canucks

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Veteran center Brian Boyle couldn't put a finger on why the Lightning has been so good at Amalie Arena this season.

    "I don't know what it is," he said. "We've got a little swagger at home, which is obviously a good thing."

    That swagger paid off again in Tuesday's 4-1 victory over the Canucks in front of 18,517, which helped Tampa Bay tie a franchise record with eight straight home wins....

    Brenden Morrow watches the puck squeak by Canucks goalie Ryan Miller for a goal during the third period.
  9. Witkowski makes NHL debut for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — D Luke Witkowski said he had happy nerves heading into Tuesday's NHL debut.

    "I couldn't even fall asleep in the pregame nap," he said.

    But once Witkowski stepped on the ice for his first shift, it felt like "just another hockey game." And it showed with Witkowski, 24, delivering a solid performance in 14:21.

    "He did everything we asked him," coach Jon Cooper said. "I thought he was safe, he made all the plays he had to make, never got himself in trouble. I really didn't notice him that much, which is a great sign."...

    OUT OF ACTION: Matt Carle, left, will miss at least six weeks after abdominal surgery. Luke Witkowski debuted Tuesday in his place.
  10. Young Lightning defensemen will be tested in Matt Carle's absence

    Blog

    The Lightning knows what it'll miss in veteran defenseman Matt Carle, who is out 6-8 weeks after today's abdominal surgery.

    "He plays 20 minutes a night and you know exactly what he's going to do," associate coach Rick Bowness said. "Very reliable."

    "Matt is a veteran guy, a calming presence," captain Steven Stamkos said. "He makes plays under pressure. It's going to be tough for guys to step up and totally fill his shoes."...

    With Matt Carle sidelined and Radko Gudas out for the season, it will be a group effort in filling their shoes - and minutes - with young defensemen such as Mark Barberio getting expanded roles.
  11. Lightning-Canucks, 7:30 Tuesday, Amalie Arena

    Lightning Strikes

    .Tonight

    Lightning vs. Canucks

    When/where: 7:30; Amalie Arena

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Canucks (25-15-3) have won three straight, shutting out the Hurricanes and Flyers and winning 2-1 Monday at Florida. They also beat the Islanders and Red Wings this month. Vancouver is 14-7-2 on the road, and going into Monday it's ranked third in the league in penalty kill (87.6 percent). The Lightning (29-14-4) wants to play better defensively, having given up a combined 74 shots the past two games. Tampa Bay beat the Canucks 4-2 on Oct. 18 in Vancouver, with captain Steven Stamkos scoring two goals. The Lightning has won seven straight at home....

  12. Lightning's Matt Carle out 6-8 weeks after surgery

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning defense has suffered another big blow as veteran Matt Carle will miss 6-8 weeks following abdomen surgery today in Philadelphia.

    Carle, 30, who got hurt in Thursday's game, saw a specialist Monday, an exam that revealed torn adductor muscles in his lower abdomen. He's expected to return in early to mid March.

    But with fellow defenseman Radko Gudas out for the regular season following knee surgery, young defensemen like Mark Barberio and rookie Nikita Nesterov, 21, must play more minutes. This also intensifies a potential push to acquire a defenseman before the March 2 trade deadline....

    Matt Carle is averaging 20:34 per game, third on the team.
  13. Matt Carle to undergo surgery, out 6-8 weeks

    Blog

    Lightning veteran defenseman Matt Carle will be out 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery Tuesday to repair torn adductor muscles in his lower abdomen.

    Carle suffered the injury in Thursday's 3-2 win over the Oilers, and saw a specialist today. The surgery will be in Philadelphia, with him possibly returning in early to mid-March.

    It's another big blow to the Lightning blueline, as Radko Gudas is out for the rest of the regular season after knee surgery. Carle, 30, snapped his streak of 347 consecutive regular season games played on Saturday....

  14. Lightning's Luke Witkowski eyes possible NHL debut

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning rookie defenseman Luke Witkowski has never been to Disney World.

    Not that he has missed Mickey.

    The 24-year-old's magic kingdom has always been the outdoors. The Holland, Mich., native grew up catching perch, bass and bluegill at his family's cottage. By age 12, he was hunting small does. Camping was a common vacation.

    "It was my entire childhood pretty much," he said....

    Luke Witkowski, left, fighting Nashville’s Jonathan-Ismael Diaby during a preseason game, is one of the longest-serving members of the Lightning organization and is slated to make his NHL debut tonight.
  15. Matt Carle to see specialist about injury

    Blog

    Lightning veteran defenseman Matt Carle was scheduled to see a specialist Monday regarding the undisclosed injury he suffered Thursday against Edmonton.

    Carle missed his first game since Mar. 2010 on Saturday, snapping a streak of 347 consecutive regular season games played. The Lightning hoped to know more Monday night or Tuesday morning on his status going forward.

    “Could be a one day thing, one week, one month. I have no idea,” Cooper said. “We’ll hopefully get some good news today.”...