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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

Email: joesmith@tampabay.com

Blogs:

Lightning Strikes

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  1. Trade market, playoff push and pending free agents complicate Lightning's decisions

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning is rolling, picking up a point in six straight games, a season high.

    Tampa Bay entered Monday just five points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

    And that certainly complicates things for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman heading into the March 1 trade deadline.

    That holds especially true when it comes to what to do with pending unrestricted free agents like Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle. It would also help to know if captain Steven Stamkos will play this season; Yzerman said Stamkos has done light skating and is progressing, but he's still on the four-to six-month recovery timeline from mid November knee surgery. ...

    Steve Yzerman
  2. Does Lightning run impact trade deadline plans?

    Blog

    The Lightning is rolling, picking up a point in six straight games, a season-high.

    Tampa Bay entered Monday just five points out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

    And that certainly complicates things for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman heading into the Mar. 1 trade deadline. That holds especially true when it comes to what to do with pending unrestricted free agents like Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle....

    If the Lightning can move a contract like Valtteri Filppula's, pictured, or Jason Garrison's, that could free up space.
  3. Lightning recovers after blowing lead to beat Avalanche in OT (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    DENVER — Jonathan Drouin's only overtime shift Sunday will be remembered for a while.

    It was a dazzling 47 seconds, with the puck on the Lightning wing's stick for most of it.

    "I was gassed," Drouin said.

    Drouin was also determined. With the Lightning blowing a two-goal lead for the second straight night — this time with 41 seconds left — it desperately needed the second point. Drouin made sure of it, his slick steal-and-deke display on the winner lifting Tampa Bay to a 3-2 victory over the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center....

    Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop stops a shot by Avalanche left wing Matt Nieto during the first period.
  4. Lightning trusting rookie Jake Dotchin to boost power play

    Lightning Strikes

    DENVER — Raise your hand if you thought rookie D Jake Dotchin would be running the point on the power play at any point this season.

    Didn't think so.

    But there was Dotchin, 22, on Saturday against the Stars, getting key special teams shifts in just his 10th NHL game. But there's a reason for it: The Lightning likes Dotchin's shot — specifically, how he's able to get the puck to the net. An example was on Victor Hedman's goal Saturday when he pounced on a rebound of a Dotchin tipped shot....

    Jake Dotchin, right, battling for position with the Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa near the goal last month, was running the point on the Lightning power play in his 10th NHL game Saturday.
  5. Lightning falls to Stars in OT (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    DALLAS — The Lightning knew bye weeks have been bad news for teams all season.

    The record spoke for itself. Teams were 3-11-3 in their first game after their five-day break as the Lightning prepared to play the Stars on Saturday night. There had been blowouts, flat starts, you name it.

    But the Lightning's 4-3 overtime loss to the Stars was different. Tampa Bay carried play for a good part of the game but blew two leads, including a 2-0 first-period advantage, and let another crucial point slip away....

    The Stars’ Jamie Benn, checking the Lightning’s Gabriel Dumont into the boards during the first period, scores in overtime after a Lightning turnover. “Turnovers killed us,” Tyler Johnson says.
  6. Lightning's Johnson returns; flu a concern

    Lightning Strikes

    DALLAS — Just when the Lightning finally felt like it was getting healthy.

    C Tyler Johnson returned to the lineup Saturday against the Stars after missing two games with a lower-body injury and had a goal and an assist in the 4-3 overtime loss. But wing Jonathan Drouin's status was in doubt until game time due to a flu bug. Cory Conacher was called up from AHL Syracuse as insurance....

    Syracuse Crunch
  7. Lightning hopes bye week won't dull goalies' sharpness

    Lightning Strikes

    DALLAS — You'd think of all players, goalies would be the most negatively impacted by this season's bye week.

    Five days without facing a shot can't be easy for a position so dependent on feel and split-second reaction.

    But Lightning goalie Ben Bishop didn't seem fazed in Friday's first practice back.

    "I felt like I never missed a beat," he said.

    The biggest reason for the Lightning's recent run — it entered Saturday's game against the Stars at American Airlines Arena having won three of its past four — has been its goaltending. Bishop had allowed three goals combined in his previous three starts. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss in Minnesota on Feb. 10....

    Lightning goalie Ben Bishop says he felt fine in Friday’s practice after five days off. He was expected to start tonight in Colorado.
  8. Brian Boyle, target of trade rumors, wants to stay with Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    DALLAS — Brian Boyle and his wife, Lauren, were talking last week as they enjoyed a bye-week staycation at Disney World.

    Their son, Declan, 2, never wanted to leave the hotel pool, no matter how cold it was. Lauren's parents live in Orlando, which is a good thing with her pregnant with their second child, due in late May.

    To the Boyles, Tampa Bay feels like home. ...

    Facebook picture of Joe Smith. (John Pendygraft | TIMES)
  9. Will bye week impact red-hot Lightning goaltending?

    Blog

    You'd think of all players, goalies would be the most impacted by the bye week.

    Five days without facing a shot can't be easy for a position so dependent on feel and split-second reaction.

    But Lightning goalie Ben Bishop didn't seem fazed in Friday's first practice back.

    "I felt like I never missed a beat," he said.

    Tampa Bay better hope that holds up Saturday against the Stars at American Airlines Arena when Andrei Vasilevskiy starts in net. The biggest reason for the Lightning's recent run - having won three of its last four - has been its goaltending. Bishop has allowed three goals in his past three starts. Vasilevskiy made 37 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss in Minnesota....

  10. Jonathan Drouin a game-time decision with flu

    Blog

    The good news for the Lightning is that Tyler Johnson is expected back in the lineup tonight against the Stars.

    The bad news? Wing Jonathan Drouin has a flu bug, and is a game-time decision. Cory Conacher was called up from AHL Syracuse and is in route in case Drouin can't go; or Tampa Bay can go with seven defensemen.

    "I hope (Drouin) can play," coach Jon Cooper said. "But you  never know how things go."...

  11. Vinny Lecavalier ready for 'special' Lightning alumni game

    Blog

    On Thursday, Vinny Lecavalier put on a Lightning jersey for the first time in four years.

    But first, the former Lightning captain went hunting.

    Yes, hunting.

    Those are the spoils of being a retired player.

    “Just nice to be outdoors,” he said. “Something different to do.”

    Saturday will be different, too. Lecavalier, 36, will be back on the ice at Amalie Arena at 5 p.m. for the Lightning alumni game against former Bruins’ players at Amalie Arena. It’s part of the third annual Hockey Day in Tampa Bay, with other events including high school championships, sled hockey game and street hockey tournaments. All proceeds from event ($10 in advance, $15 at the door), proceed the Jason Ritchie Foundation and Lightning sled hockey....

  12. Tyler Johnson could return Saturday

    Blog

    One positive to come out of the Lightning's bye week is the potential return of center Tyler Johnson.

    Johnson, who missed the last two games with a lower body injury, was a full participant in Friday's first practice after the five-day bye. Johnson was in a regular jersey, on a line with Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov.

    It's a good sign Johnson might be available for Saturday's game in Dallas. The team will decide after Saturday's morning skate....

    Tyler Johnson missed the last two games with a lower body injury, was a full participant in Friday's first practice.
  13. Lightning's playoff hopes: So you're saying there's a chance?

    Lightning Strikes

    Center Brian Boyle put a sobering spin on one of the Lightning's best stretches of the season.

    '"We're winning just to stay where we're at," he said.

    And Tampa Bay's unlikely climb into a playoff spot only gets more daunting.

    Despite winning three of its last four games, the Lightning (25-24-7) remains six points out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and seven points behind Boston for third in the Atlantic Division (with two games in hand)....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) is beaten by Anaheim for the tying goal, 2-2, during the third period of Saturday's (2/4/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Anaheim Ducks at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  14. Why Steven Stamkos might not be himself on the ice until Christmas

    Lightning Strikes

    It remains to be seen when — or if — captain Steven Stamkos rejoins the Lightning lineup this season.

    By all accounts, Stamkos is on schedule for an expected four-month recovery from mid November surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. GM Steve Yzerman maintains there's still no set return date.

    More important than when Stamkos comes back is how he feels and performs when he does. Though surgeons say elite athletes are expected to return to their previous level after this procedure, it doesn't always happen right away....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates his goal while down on his knees beating Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) for the first goal of the game during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (10/15/15).
  15. Five flashbacks: Jonathan Drouin's best plays this season (w/poll)

    Lightning Strikes

    "Just instincts."

    That's how Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin explained his dazzling shift and setup in Saturday's 4-1 win in Winnipeg. Well, there was a little more to it than that. Drouin skated circles around the Jets before setting up center Brayden Point for the tone-setting first goal. Twitter was buzzing with GIFs and videos of the one-man show, including the #nowords.

    Said coach Jon Cooper: "(Drouin) can do some magical things."...

    Jonathan Drouin (27) battles Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen (7) to keep possession of the puck during a game Dec. 10 at Amalie Arena. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]