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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. Cooper on Red Wings' interference: "Fight through it, boys"


    The subject of the Red Wings' penchant for interference was a hot topic for the second straight day, but coach Jon Cooper insisted it wasn't a plea for more penalty calls.

    "You trying to get out, 'The coach is whining for penalties,' that's not it at all," Cooper said. "I'm sure what's going on in our series is going on in the rest of them."

    So what is Cooper's message to his team?

    "Fight through it boys," Cooper said. The guys in stripes could call one."

    Cooper has said the Red Wings commit interference more than any other team, quipping, 'If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying, They do it to a 'T.'' But when told of Cooper's comments Monday, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock delivered a subtle shot of his own.

    "I just think in playoff time, there's no room," Babcock said. "The most determined team fights through. If you're not determined, you can't fight through."

    The Lightning hasn't been able to, getting shut out in two of the last three games, and eight of nine regulation periods. It's not that Detroit isn't getting called for penalties, as the Lightning has had 24 power plays, most by any team in the playoffs (but are 2-for-24). Cooper said the Lightning just has to find a way into the "dirty areas."

    "You can't avoid it, because if you avoid contact you're not going to get to the net, and that's where we have to get," Cooper said. "In order to get there, contact is going to happen. I think for us, in some of those situations, we need the puck to go off somebody's butt into the net or something like that."

    Steven Stamkos said the Lightning has to give the Red Wings some diffrent looks in the offensive zone.

    "I know it's tough to do, but we have to find a way," Stamkos said. "Hopefully tonight's position we are in with our back against the wall, we can play with desperation from the beginning. It's not pretty. I know we have a lot of speed and skill on this team, and we want to make some nice plays. But at the same time, we realize that a lot of that is not working against this particular team against this particular series."

    And, Stamkos even suggests, when you cant beat them, join them.

    "Maybe we have to put that our game a little bit," Stamkos said. "...

    "Fight through it boys," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is telling his players about the Red Wings' clutch-and-grab tactics.
  2. Steven Stamkos: I'm not injured


    Lightning star Steven Stamkos put all the speculation to rest Monday, saying he's not playing hurt.

    Stamkos hasn't scored a goal in five games this series - talling just two assists - sparking questions about his health.

    "Obviously cause I'm not scoring, people think you're injured," Stamkos said. "That's not the case. I feel great. Obviously everyone is going through some bumps and bruises at this time (of year). But if I had a couple goals, nobody would ask me if I was injured."...

    Steven Stamkos hasn't scored a goal in five games this series - talling just two assists - sparking questions about his health.
  3. Lightning: Quotes of the day

    Lightning Strikes

    Quote of the day I

    "The belief is there. We have to just go out and prove to ourselves that we're not ready to quit."

    Captain Steven Stamkos, on being able to overcome a 3-2 series deficit

    Quote of the day II

    "We're not playing 'Stammer,' we're playing Tampa Bay."

    Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, on his team's success at slowing Lightning captain Steven Stamkos...

  4. Red Wings' smothering style frustrates Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Throughout this playoff series, the Red Wings have frustrated the Lightning by clogging up the neutral zone, getting away with their share of clutching and grabbing without an interference penalty called.

    And that tactic has not been a surprise.

    "There are 30 teams in the league and nobody does (interference) more than the Detroit Red Wings, hands down," coach Jon Cooper said. "The old saying is, 'If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying.' They do it to a 'T'....

    TAMPA, FL - APRIL 25: Joakim Andersson #18 of the Detroit Red Wings against and Jason Garrison #5 of the Tampa Bay Lightning battle for control of the puck along the boards during the first period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Amalie Arena on April 25, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) 548281241
  5. History not on Lightning's side; belief is

    Lightning Strikes


    Coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning was understandably down on its plane flight after Saturday's 4-0 home loss to the Red Wings that put them on the brink of Stanley Cup playoff elimination.

    After all, the Lightning faces a daunting task, trailing the first-round series 3-2 heading into tonight's do-or-die Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena.

    But as the Lightning gathered for a meeting at its downtown hotel Sunday afternoon, the mood began to change. Some players spoke up, those who have been on teams that overcame 3-2, 3-1 — even 3-0 — series deficits to win....

    “It’s all about belief,” says defenseman Victor Hedman, near left, with goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman Anton Stralman after a Red Wings goal in Game 5’s shutout loss. “I’m not worried about this group at all. We know we can do it.”
  6. Lightning one loss from elimination after 4-0 loss to Wings

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — For all the Lightning gained in its emotional, potentially series-swinging comeback win in overtime Thursday, it gave it all back — and more — Saturday night.

    And now its record-setting season is slipping away.

    Tampa Bay had a chance to take control of its first-round playoff series with the Red Wings but instead is in full desperation mode after a deflating 4-0 loss that drew some boos from the sellout crowd of 19,204 at Amalie Arena. The Lightning heads to Detroit for Monday's Game 6 facing elimination, trailing 3-2....

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) goes down while battling Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (65) along the boardssduring first period action in game five of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday. (04/25/15).
  7. Lightning's Tyler Johnson lives his fantasy life

    Lightning Strikes


    Tyler Johnson grew up playing pickup hockey, dreaming of scoring a winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

    "I think everyone has," he said.

    But the Lightning center didn't pretend to be Mario Lemieux or Marty St. Louis. His was always a first-person fairy tale.

    "Because you always want to see yourself in that position," he said.

    There were doubters. The undersized, undrafted forward had to fight his way into the NHL. But Thursday, Johnson became the talk of the league after scoring the overtime winner in the Lightning's season-saving 3-2 playoff win over Detroit, setting the stage for Game 5 today at Amalie Arena, the first-round series tied 2-2....

    Times photo illustration
  8. Lightning tops Wings in OT, ties series at 2 (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The Lightning was done.

    Trailing by two goals late in the third period of a must-win Game 4 against the Red Wings on Thursday, Tampa Bay appeared in danger of slipping to the brink of playoff elimination. Joe Louis Arena was going wild, octopi flying onto the ice.

    "It didn't look too bright," defenseman Victor Hedman said.

    But then the "Triplets" took over. Tampa Bay's best line saved the game — and potentially the season — in a series-swinging 3-2 overtime victory. Tyler Johnson's two goals, including the winner 2:25 into the extra session, has Tampa Bay headed home for Saturday's Game 5 tied 2-2 instead of staring down a 3-1 hole....

    Tyler Johnson scores the Lightning’s first and last goals and assists on the other, by Ondrej Palat.
  9. Drouin, Garrison enter Lightning lineup

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — With the Lightning entering Thursday's Game 4 needing a win to pull even in their playoff series with the Red Wings, coach Jon Cooper hinted there could be lineup changes.

    There certainly were.

    Rookie LW Jonathan Drouin, a healthy scratch for the first three games of the first-round series, made his playoff debut in the Lightning's 3-2 overtime win, taking the spot of LW Brenden Morrow. ...

    DETROIT, MI - APRIL 23:  Jason Garrison #5 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tries to control the puck against Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena on April 23, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. Tampa Bay won the game 3-2 in overtime to tie the series 2-2. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) 548281529
  10. Lightning: Charles Barkley's a fan

    Lightning Strikes

    Surprise fan of the day

    The Lightning, entering Thursday trailing its playoff series with the Red Wings 2-1, got a pep talk from an unexpected fan: Charles Barkley. The former NBA star and current TNT analyst wrapped up Wednesday's Inside the NBA show on TNT talking about hockey and said, "Come on, Tampa Bay. I haven't given up on you yet, Coach Coop." Jon Cooper met Barkley last year on a Lightning road trip in Los Angeles, and the two gained a mutual respect. "You have one perception of a guy on TV, and I grew up watching him play," Cooper said. "But after spending a few hours with the guy, I'll be honest. He's one of the greatest guys I've ever met. I marveled how he is with other people, the stories he told, how genuine he was. This is just the perfect example. I haven't spoken to him in six months, and for him to be following us and cheering for us, that shows he's a class act."...

  11. Cooper indicated there could be lineup changes for Game 4


    With the Lightning needing a win tonight in Game 4 against Detroit, trailing 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, coach Jon Cooper left the door open for potential tweaks to his lineup.

    "Could there be changes? Sure," he said.

    Cooper said he's liked how his team has played in the first three games. But there are a couple possibilities here. Defenseman Jason Garrison, out since March 28 with an upper body injury, said he'll be a "game-time" decision tonight. He hasn't been told if he's taking warm-ups....

    At forward, tonight would seem like a good opportunity to put in rookie wing Jonathan Drouin, who has been scratched the first three games.
  12. Charles Barkley gives Cooper/Lightning a shout-out


    With the Lightning heading into a must-win Game 4 tonight in Detroit, trailing 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, it got a shout-out from an unexpected fan:

    Charles Barkley.

    Barkley, the former NBA star and current TNT analyst, wrapped up Wednesday's "Inside the NBA" show talking about hockey, and put this out here:

    "Come on Tampa Bay. I haven't given up on you yet Coach Coop."...

    With the Lightning heading into a must-win Game 4 tonight in Detroit, trailing 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, it got a shout-out from an unexpected fan: Charles Barkley.
  13. Lightning tries to find its power play

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — There's no sugar-coating this one: The Lightning power play needs to be better.

    Much better.

    In Tampa Bay's two losses in its first-round series against Detroit, it's a combined 0-for-13 on the power play, including 0-for-6 Tuesday in Game 3. The Lightning scored twice with the man advantage in Saturday's 5-1 Game 2 victory.

    "So you kind of do that math, you're looking at how these wins are chalking up, special teams do matter," coach Jon Cooper said....

    Tyler Johnson, front, one part of the Lightning’s “Triplets,” battles for the puck with the Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk in Game 3.
  14. Lightning-Wings: Joe Louis Arena crowd; playoff wave; Tyler Johnson, Ferraro teammates as kids

    Lightning Strikes

    Quote of the day

    "It felt like Game 7 deep in June."

    Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, on the raucous crowd in Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena

    Perspective of the day

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said it's important not to ride the wave in the playoffs. "After Game 1 it was, 'Oh, Detroit has command.' After Game 2 it's Tampa, and now Detroit. We come back and win a game it's, 'Tampa has home ice now, it's in their favor.' "...

  15. Lightning understands 'magnitude' of Game 4 vs. Wings

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — There's no question the Red Wings played their best game of the series in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Lightning.

    "We looked like a real hockey team," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.

    But the Lightning felt it didn't look — or play — like itself in a frustrating loss, which makes for easier adjustments heading into a near-must-win Game 4 tonight at Joe Louis Arena. Tampa Bay trails the best-of-seven series 2-1....

    Luke Glendening (41) celebrates his empty-net goal with his Red Wings teammate to close out Game 3’s shutout of the Lightning.