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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 prospects competing in World Junior tournament


    With the World Junior tournament beginning today in Canada, three Lightning prospects will be playing in the prestigious tournament.

    First-round pick D Anthony DeAngelo will be on Team USA, second-round pick D Dominik Masin for Czech Republic and third-round pick C Brayden Point for Team Canada.

    All three took different routes to get there.

    DeAngelo, 19, appeared to have a tough shot to make Team USA, especially considering he wasn't invited to the USA summer camp in Lake Placid. Part of that was probably stemming from character concerns due to his suspensions at the junior level. But DeAngelo has played very well to start the season for the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League, leading the league's defensemen in scoring. And DeAngelo played well enough in USA training camp to merit a spot, made official when USA cut injured defenseman Steve Santini....

  2. Lightning mired in a funk

    Lightning Strikes

    Make no mistake, the Lightning is in a rut.

    After losing four of five on its just-concluded road trip, and six of eight overall, Tampa Bay knows its life won't get easier, especially with the Penguins welcoming them home Tuesday at Amalie Arena.

    "We're getting tested a little bit here," wing Brett Connolly said. "We'll see what we're made of."

    Coach Jon Cooper notes that most teams go through rough stretches over an 82-game season. ...

    The Devils’ Patrik Elias sends goalie Evgeni Nabokov and the Lightning to a shootout loss Friday, part of a 1-3-1 road trip.
  3. Lightning loses to Islanders

    Lightning Strikes

    UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Coach Jon Cooper figured rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy would want to "make a statement" Saturday night, especially considering starter Ben Bishop is getting closer to returning.

    Vasilevskiy, 20, certainly did, stealing the show with 45 saves, a Lightning rookie record. "I don't know who got the stars, but he should have been all three," Cooper said. "He was outstanding."...

    The Lightning’s Matt Carle takes the puck from the Islanders’ Mikhail Grabovski as goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy focuses.
  4. Ben Bishop takes shots, feels better

    Lightning Strikes

    UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Lightning G Ben Bishop spent an hour on the ice Saturday morning, facing live shots for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury Monday.

    After skating on back-to-back days, Bishop was encouraged by his progress. "It feels a lot better," he said. "It's getting there."

    Bishop, who "tweaked something," said the team would see how he reacted to the workout, with the plan to practice Monday. There's a chance Bishop could return Tuesday at home against the Penguins, but with a three-day holiday break right after that, the Lightning could also give him extra time to rest....

    Ben Bishop, who suffered a lower-body injury Monday against the Penguins, is expected to return to practice Monday.
  5. Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Connolly loves 'Scandal'; TV-less Vasilevskiy

    Lightning Strikes

    Short shift with Brett Connolly

    Must-TivO TV show: Scandal

    Second-best sport: Soccer. Played until I was 16.

    Favorite piece of memorabilia: I had a big binder full of hockey cards.

    If you weren't a hockey player, you'd be: Probably something in sports, like sports medicine.

    Favorite concert: Jay Z and Beyonce, last summer with (Steven Stamkos) in Toronto....

    BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 02: Brett Connolly #14 of the Tampa Bay Lightning prepares for a faceoff against the Buffalo Sabres on December 2, 2014 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
  6. Mumps, afflicting NHL, hard to control

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J.

    So am I the only one who thought mumps was a thing of the past, like polio?

    Well, I was about as right as Ron Burgundy from Anchorman saying diversity is an "old wooden ship."

    Mumps, a contagious viral infection, has taken the NHL by storm, with 16 players and five teams confirmed to have been impacted. Multiple teams have cancelled holiday hospital visits and public appearances because of the outbreak. ...

    FILE - This is an April 3, 2014, file photo showing Pittsburgh Penguins' Beau Bennett (19) and Sidney Crosby (87) after a goal by Bennett against the Winnipeg Jets during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Penguins are worried forward Beau Bennett has mumps. General manager Jim Rutherford said Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, that Bennett has symptoms and the team is awaiting test results before making a diagnosis. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is out for Monday night's game against Tampa Bay after being diagnosed over the weekend. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Woods, File) NY159
  7. Ben Bishop "getting there;" Johnson could return tonight


    Goalie Ben Bishop spent nearly an hour on the ice at Nassau Coliseum Saturday morning, facing live shots for the first time since suffering a lower body injury Monday.

    And, after skating back-to-back days, Bishop is encouraged by the progress.

    "It feels a lot better," he said. "It's getting there."

    Bishop said the team will see how he reacts to Saturday's hard workout, with the plan to practice Monday. There's a chance Bishop could return Tuesday at home against the Penguins, but with a three-day holiday break right after, the team could give him extra time to rest....

  8. Lightning falls to Devils in shootout

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — The Lightning was happy to at least salvage a point in Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Devils, having overcome a two-goal deficit to tie the score in the final minute.

    "We earned it," wing Ryan Callahan said.

    But as coach Jon Cooper said, it never should have came to that. Like Tampa Bay (20-10-4) has done often in its recent rut — dropping five of its past seven — it outshot (28-18) and outchanced the Devils, who snapped a five-game losing streak....

    Lightning goalie Evgeni Nabokov makes a second-period save as Anton Stralman, left, waits to help clear the puck.
  9. Lightning's Gudas returns, but Johnson is sick

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — The Lightning hasn't dealt with the mumps, but it appears another illness may be going around.

    After D Radko Gudas missed three games due to a stomach virus, C Tyler Johnson didn't play Friday against the Devils due to a similar bug. It was the first game that Johnson, the team's second-leading scorer, had missed in the past two seasons, snapping a streak of 115 straight. ...

    NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 19: Radko Gudas #7 of the Tampa Bay Lightning hits Eric Gelinas #22 of the New Jersey Devils into the boards during overtime at the Prudential Center on December 19, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey.  The Devils defeated the Lightning 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 507048343
  10. Lightning-Islanders Saturday night preview

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning at Islanders

    When/where: 7; Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Islanders have won three straight with Friday's 2-1 victory against the Red Wings. … G Jaroslav Halak is 17-6-0 with a 2.30 GAA. … Centers Brock Nelson (14) and John Tavares (12) are the only Islanders with double-digit goals. … The Islanders (12-3-0 at home) entered Friday with the league's worst penalty kill (71 percent). … The teams split the first two meetings. The Lightning won 5-2 in Tampa on Nov. 15; the Islanders won 5-2 on Long Island on Nov. 18. … Defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic were activated off injured reserve Friday. … Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy was expected to make his second career start....

  11. Lightning-Devils Friday night preview

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning at Devils

    When/where: 7, Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Devils have lost five straight (0-3-2), three of those games by one goal. … They outplayed the Senators on Wednesday, outshooting them 34-16, but lost 2-0. … New Jersey beat the Lightning 2-1 on Oct. 14 in Tampa. … Devils rookie D Damon Severson is out with a lower-body injury. … The Devils are 11-3-0 vs. the Lightning at the Prudential Center since 2007-08. … Devils LW Mike Cammalleri (11 goals) hasn't played since Dec. 13 due to a lower-body injury. … Lightning LW Nikita Kucherov has six points in his past four games....

  12. For Lightning, language shows way to success

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    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Wing Nikita Kucherov is having a breakout season, his 12 goals and plus-18 rating second on the Lightning.

    "He's been unbelievable," captain Steven Stamkos said.

    And Kucherov has Shameless, The Walking Dead and Blue Mountain State partly to thank.

    No, the television shows don't make Kucherov's hands any quicker or his shot any harder. But the 21-year-old Russian has used them as tools to improve his English, and he has made a dramatic improvement since last year. "Night and day," Stamkos said....

    Nikita Kucherov Getty Images
  13. Tyler Johnson questionable with stomach illness; Bishop still out


    The Lightning hasn't dealt with the mumps yet, but it appears a stomach virus may be going around.

    After defenseman Radko Gudas missed the last three games due to a stomatch virus, center Tyler Johnson isn't skating at today's practice in New Jersey due to a stomach illness. Johnson is questionable for Friday's game against the Devils.

    "He's got the 'G word,' The Gudas," coach Jon Cooper said....

    Center Tyler Johnson isn't skating at today's practice in New Jersey due to a stomach illness.
  14. Lightning sees future in Drouin, Vasilevskiy

    Lightning Strikes

    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The Lightning showed a snapshot of its future Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

    There was touted goalie prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy, 20, making his NHL debut and impressing in a 3-1 win over the Flyers.

    And there was rookie wing Jonathan Drouin, 19, shining on the top line with Steven Stamkos, 24, setting up the captain's tying goal with a nifty give-and go.

    Drouin and Vasilevskiy add to the young core that includes Stamkos; Victor Hedman, 23; Tyler Johnson, 24; Ondrej Palat, 23, and Nikita Kucherov, 21. ...

     Touted goalie prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy, 20, made his NHL debut in a 3-1 win over the Flyers Tuesday night in Philadelphia. [Yong Kim/Philadelphia Daily News/TNS]
  15. Rookie goalie wins debut for Lightning vs. Flyers

    Lightning Strikes

    PHILADELPHIA — After a surprise call-up and early-morning flight, touted goaltending prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy arrived at the Lightning's hotel just around noon Tuesday.

    Coach Jon Cooper greeted him with the news he'd make his NHL debut hours later. How did the 20-year-old Russian react?

    "Pause, deep breath, gigantic exhale and then a big smile on his face," Cooper said. "I didn't know how to say it in Russian, and he barely knew how to say it in English. His eyes lit up, it was great."...

    Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn checks Lightning left wing Brenden Morrow into the bench during the third period. Tampa Bay was outshot by Philadelphia 24-23 but won for the third time in its past eight games.