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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. Kronwall to have hearing over Kucherov hit


    Whether Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall gets suspended over his questionable hit on Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov Monday night remains to be seen.

    But Kronwall has a phone hearing scheduled with the league's Department of Player Safety.

    The hit occurred in the final minute of the second period, with Kronwall leaving his feet and connecting his elbow/forearm to the head of Kucherov, who went down hard on the ice. Kucherov stayed in the game, and said afterwards he didn't consider it a dirty hit....

    The hit occurred in the final minute of the second period, with Niklas Kronwall leaving his feet and connecting his elbow/forearm to the head of Nikita Kucherov, who went down hard on the ice.
  2. Lightning forces Game 7 with win in Detroit (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Tyler Johnson said when the Lightning talked before Monday's win-or-go-home Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena, the message was simple.

    "We basically had two choices to make," Johnson said. "Either give up or come out swinging. I felt that, with our backs against the wall, we came out swinging."

    Boy, did they. The Lightning staved off elimination with a thrilling 5-2 victory over the Red Wings to stun a sellout crowd and force Game 7 Wednesday night at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay played with the type of desperation and execution of a team that didn't want its record-setting season to end....

    Lightning forward Tyler Johnson celebrates his second-period goal, his second of the game and league-high tying sixth of the postseason, in front of Danny DeKeyser of the Red Wings.
  3. Red Wings' Kronwall could face discipline for hit on Lightning's Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — RW Nikita Kucherov said he hadn't seen the replay of the helmet-separating hit Red Wings D Niklas Kronwall gave him late in the second period of Monday's Game 6.

    But there's a good chance the NHL will take a hard look at it and contemplate potential discipline for Kronwall by Wednesday's Game 7 at Amalie Arena.

    Kucherov had the puck near the Tampa Bay blueline when Kronwall left his feet, landing an elbow/forearm to Kucherov's head, knocking him down and his helmet off....

    Feeling okay: Lightning center Steven Stamkos, right, who has not had a goal in this series, says he feels fine.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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...

  7. 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
  8. 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....

    SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 1: Anton Stralman #6 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates on the ice prior to the start of the game against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on March 1, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
  9. Lightning one loss from elimination with 4-0 defeat 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.

    Tampa Bay had a chance to take control of its best-of-seven first-round playoff series with the Red Wings, but it is in full desperation mode after a deflating 4-0 loss, drawing some boos from the sellout crowd of 19,204 at Amalie Arena. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) fights off a shot by Detroit Red Wings center Landon Ferraro (29), left, during the second period of Saturday's (4/15/15) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings in game five of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  10. 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....

    Tyler Johnson, 5 feet 8, gets a squeeze from Brian Boyle, 6 feet 7, after his OT winner against the Red Wings in Game 4.
  11. 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....

    “Triplets” line member Ondrej Palat jumps into Lightning teammates’ arms after linemate Tyler Johnson scores the winner 2:25 into overtime. In despair on the ice is the Detroit’s Darren Helm.
  12. 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
  13. 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."...

  14. 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.
  15. 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.