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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 shuts out Rangers, one win from Stanley Cup final

    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.
  2. Stamkos extends his hot streak

    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.
  3. 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."...

  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Lightning's Bishop now in goalie hot seat

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist spent a lot of time before Friday's Game 4 walking around and "soul searching."

    The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner was stunned after giving up six goals in back-to-back games for the second time in his Hall-of-Fame-caliber career. Lundqvist knew he had to bounce back against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference final, and he did brilliantly in a 5-1 victory, racking up 38 saves, 18 coming in a second period that Tampa Bay dominated....

    In Game 4’s 5-1 loss, Lightning goalie Ben Bishop says, “there were a couple of lucky bounces … saves that I’d like to make.”
  8. Rangers overwhelm Lightning, tie series at 2 (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes


    Nikita Kucherov, the hero Wednesday night, found himself wide open in the slot early in Friday's Game 4. l He missed the net — high and wide. l A few minutes later, Tyler Johnson, the NHL's leading playoff scorer, had Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist beat but ripped a shot off the crossbar. Ping. l Alex Killorn had two breakaways in the first two periods. l Nada. l "We didn't have the puck luck tonight," Johnson said. l The Lightning lost to the Rangers 5-1, disappointing a sellout crowd of 19,204 at Amalie Arena and evening the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final series at two games each heading into Sunday's Game 5. But as ugly as the score looked, Tampa Bay believed it deserved a better fate, focusing on its 39 shots — most thwarted in a brilliant bounce-back performance by Lundqvist — and a dominating second period. l "I thought for 45 minutes we did everything but put the puck in the net," coach Jon Cooper said. "People are going to wake up in the morning and look at the box score and say, 'Oh, wow, Tampa got waxed.' But if you were in the building, you probably didn't see it that way."...

    Lightning goalie Ben Bishop is beaten by the Rangers’ Rick Nash, middle top, for Nash’s first goal, which gives New York a 1-0 lead in the first period.
  9. Lightning's Yzerman finalist for GM of year (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning's Steve Yzerman is one of three finalists for general manager of the year, the league announced Friday.

    Yzerman, 50, joins the Rangers' Glen Sather and the Ducks' Bob Murray as finalists. Yzerman, in his sixth year with Tampa Bay, also was a finalist in 2010-11, the last time the team reached the Eastern Conference final.

    The Lightning set a franchise record for wins (50) and points (108) this season, buoyed by some key moves Yzerman made during the summer....

    The Lightning’s Steve Yzerman is a finalist for NHL general manager of the year for a second time. The first was 2011.
  10. Lightning: Rays wear Lightning T's; Tony Dungy, Community Hero

    Lightning Strikes

    Ray-sing the Cup

    The Rays continued their support of the Lightning's playoff run, with 2B Tim Beckham (left) and others wearing Lightning T-shirts during batting practice Friday. 3B Evan Longoria said on Twitter: "Gotta be awesome putting this shirt on and seeing that Stanley Cup logo. #GoBolts #BringStanleyHome."

    Guest of honor

    Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy (left) was honored as the Lightning's Community Hero at Friday's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against the Rangers, with a special introduction by Bucs Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks. Dungy received $50,000 for his selected charities....

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Tim Beckham (1) wearing a Tampa Bay Lighting t-shirt during batting practice before the game between the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, May 22, 2015.
  11. Steve Yzerman finalist for GM of the Year


    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is one of three finalists for General Manager of the Year, the league announced Friday.

    Yzerman, 50, joins the Rangers Glen Sather and the Ducks’ Bob Murray. Yzerman in his sixth year with Tampa Bay, was also a finalist in 2010-11, the last time the Lightning reached the Eastern Conference Final. This season, the Lightning set franchise record for wins (50) and points (108)....

  12. With Matt Carle out, Mark Barberio to make playoff debut


    At the end of Friday's morning skate, associate Rick Bowness approached defenseman Mark Barberio to give him the news: he'll make his playoff debut tonight in Game 4.

    With defenseman Matt Carle (undisclosed) out, Barberio could be the sixth or seventh defenseman.

    "He asked me if I was ready to go," Barberio said. "(Heck) yeah!"

    Barberio, 25, hadn't played since the regular season finale April 11 against Boston. And while he's had experience of going long stretches without games - he played in just 52 this season - watching the first few rounds of the playoffs from the press box wasn't easy....

    With defenseman Matt Carle (undisclosed) out, Mark Barberio (8) could be the sixth or seventh defenseman.
  13. Lightning: Jameis Winston and Wie; Johnson's goal song Johnny B. Goode

    Lightning Strikes

    Duo of the day

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall draft pick last month, is making the rounds of the local sports scene, taking in Wednesday's Lightning-Rangers Game 3 at Amalie Arena. Winston (near left) wore a Ben Bishop jersey and met with pro golfer Michelle Wie (far left).

    Johnny Be Good

    Lightning C Tyler Johnson got a kick out of hearing Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode played at Amalie Arena after he scored Wednesday night. Johnson said he never has had a goal song and had heard the classic hit a few times before. "That was pretty funny. I didn't expect it," Johnson said. "It's pretty cool. Hopefully I can score a few more."...

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper talks with his team on the bench against the Nashville Predators during third period of preseason hockey action at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa Thursday evening (09/19/13).
  14. Harvard grad Killorn makes mom proud with degree, Lightning

    Lightning Strikes


    On the wall of Alex Killorn's bedroom in his childhood home in Montreal, there's plenty of memorabilia.

    There are the pucks commemorating his first NHL goal and assist, and one of his sticks.

    But to his mother, Cindy, a former teacher, the most prized item is a framed degree from Harvard that says Alex Joseph Killorn graduated in 2012 with a bachelor of arts degree in government/political science....

    Alex Killorn at his 2012 Harvard graduation with mom Cindy and dad Matt.
  15. Lightning batters elite goalies

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — By the end of the second round, the Lightning had arguably the best goalie in the world — Montreal's MVP finalist, Carey Price taking the blame for a conference semifinal series loss.

    And now Tampa Bay's relentless offensive attack has overwhelmed another one of the league's greats, Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist, called "The King," who has allowed six goals in back-to-back games for just the second time in his 10-year career and the first time in 107 playoff starts....

    Steven Stamkos screens Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as the Lightning’s Alex Killorn (unseen) scores in Game 3’s 6-5 overtime win. “I have to be better,” Lundqvist says.