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 tops Flyers

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Flyers center Vinny Lecavalier, the former longtime Lightning captain, said before Thursday's game that Steven Stamkos is the most dangerous goal-scorer in the NHL.

    "No doubt about it," Lecavalier said.

    Stamkos showed why against the Flyers, racking up two goals to lift Tampa Bay to a 4-3 win in front of 18,642 at Amalie Arena. It was the second straight victory for the Lightning (7-3-1), which snapped the Flyers' three-game winning streak and moved to 8-0-1 in its past nine games at home against Philadelphia....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) celebrates as he scores the first goal of the game against Philadelphia Flyers during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (10/30/31).
  2. Lightning's Jonathan Drouin moved to fourth line

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning rookie LW Jonathan Drouin got off to a fast start in his NHL career, often playing on the top line and averaging more than 18 minutes during his first four games.

    But Tuesday against the Coyotes, Drouin, 19, was placed on a lower line with fellow rookies Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov, logging just 11 minutes, 50 seconds, including no power-play time. Same thing on Thursday against the Flyers, when Drouin was on the fourth line with the same two players, playing 9:58....

    Jonathan Drouin will be out 3-4 weeks due to a slight fracture in his right thumb. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  3. Jonathan Drouin adjusts to drop in playing time, different line


    Touted Lightning wing prospect Jonathan Drouin got off to a fast start in his NHL career, often playing on the top line - and up to 20 minutes - during his first four games.

    But on Tuesday, Drouin, 19, was placed on the fourth line with fellow rookies Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov, logging just 11 minutes, 50 seconds, including no power play time. On Thursday against the Flyers, Drouin will be on the same line....

    Coach Jon Cooper said Jonathan Drouin was thrust into a larger role his first week due to injuries, and now he's with a group "he should be playing with" as he learns to play better without the puck.
  4. Lightning's Anton Stralman has been better than advertised

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When the Lightning signed Anton Stralman on July 1, associate coach Rick Bowness got a phone call from a good friend who gave him a ringing endorsement of the veteran defenseman.

    It was Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who had just watched Stralman play a key role in his team's run to the Stanley Cup final.

    "He said, 'You're going to love this guy,' " Bowness said.

    And Tampa Bay certainly has, saying Stralman, signed to a five-year, $22.5 million deal, has been better than advertised in his first month. Stralman, 28, has helped cushion the blow of losing defense partner Victor Hedman, out four to six weeks with a fractured finger, by anchoring the top defensive pairing and running the point on the first power-play unit....

    Defenseman Anton Stralman, middle, is surrounded after scoring his first goal of the season in Saturday’s loss to the Wild.
  5. Lightning ends trip with loss to Wild

    Lightning Strikes

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — Lightning veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov didn't mince words when breaking down his performance Saturday.

    Nabokov, 39, was pulled after allowing four goals on eight shots in a 7-2 loss to the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. Three of the four goals he wished he had back.

    "I just wasn't good," Nabokov said. "Too-easy goals. Any time you have a game like this, it (stinks)."...

    Goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who starts for the Lightning, makes one of his four first-period saves on the Wild’s Zach Parise, but he gets pulled later in the period after giving up four goals on eight shots. Parise has a goal and an assist in the game.
  6. Depth helps Lightning weather injuries

    Lightning Strikes

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — After wings J.T. Brown and Brett Connolly got hurt early in Friday's game, coach Jon Cooper turned to assistant Steve Thomas, a former longtime NHL wing.

    "I said, 'You better lace them up, kid,' " Cooper said. " 'We may be turning back the clock.' "

    It has almost come to that for the injury-depleted Lightning. With Cooper saying Brown (upper body) is day to day and Connolly (lower body) week to week, Tampa Bay brought in reinforcements Saturday, recalling forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Mike Blunden from AHL Syracuse. For Blunden, who played Tuesday in Calgary, it was his second callup in a week. C Cedric Paquette came up for Friday's game in Winnipeg....

    Minnesota Wild’s Jason Zucker (16) scores his second goal of an NHL hockey game against Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop in the third period Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 7-2. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) MNJM109
  7. Lightning players recall NHL debuts

    Lightning Strikes

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — You always remember your first time.

    With wing Jonathan Drouin making his anticipated NHL debut Monday in Edmonton — and scoring his first goal Friday in Winnipeg — other Lightning players had flashbacks of their first games.

    For goalie Ben Bishop, he has 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to thank for his debut. It was Oct. 24, 2009, with the Blues, and Palin was there to drop the ceremonial first puck. Starter Manny Legace tripped on the carpet laid out for Palin, suffering a groin injury, and he played only a period. Bishop entered in relief, giving up two goals over the final 40 minutes in a 4-0 loss to the Kings....

  8. Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Bishop and Billy Joel; Stamkos gets a ring; Wacky Winnipeg

    Lightning Strikes

    Short shift G Ben Bishop

    Must-TiVo TV show: Entourage. There's a movie coming out pretty soon.

    Favorite movie: That's hard. Probably Wedding Crashers.

    Second-best sport: All of them. I played all of them. Only one I play for real is golf because I can keep score. But growing up, it was baseball.

    Favorite memorabilia: I have a couple things from (former Cardinals star 1B Albert Pujols). I always played his golf tournament, and he always gave out stuff. I have a Wheaties box signed by him and a home plate signed by him. It's pretty cool."...

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop on the ice during training camp at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Friday (09/19/14).
  9. Team Canada surprises Stamkos with gold-medal ring


    With the Lightning practicing at Team Canada’s facility near Calgary on Thursday, several players took the opportunity to check out its Hall of Champions, which had the trophies and photos from championships won.

    But captain Steven Stamkos got a special parting gift.

    Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada’s vice president of hockey operations, surprised Stamkos by giving him one of the rings presented to members of Canada’s gold-medal-winning team at this year’s Olympics. Stamkos was selected for the team but didn’t play due to a broken right leg suffered in November....

  10. Lightning recall Marchessault, Blunden


    With injuries continuing to deplete the Lightning roster, the team called up forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Mike Blunden from AHL Syracuse this morning.

    Already without three regulars - Ryan Callahan, Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman - the Lightning lost two more forwards during Friday night's 4-2 win in Winnipeg. Wings J.T. Brown (upper body) and Brett Connolly (lower body) got hurt in the first period and did not return for the second. Brown got checked, with his head getting driven to the boards. Coach Jon Cooper said he doubted either could play tonight against the Wild in the second game of a back-to-back, and final game in a 10-day road trip....

  11. Drouin gets first goal, Lightning tops Jets

    Lightning Strikes

    WINNIPEG — Star center Steven Stamkos knows there will be a lot of comparisons between his current linemate, touted rookie wing Jonathan Drouin, and former longtime wingman Marty St. Louis.

    "But he's his own player," Stamkos said of Drouin. "The skill set is there. It's pretty impressive to see."

    Drouin's skills were on full display Friday night as he picked up his first NHL goal and an assist as the Lightning beat the Jets 4-2 at the MTS Centre. ...

    Jonathan Drouin gets congratulations from the bench after scoring his first NHL goal, which gives the Lightning a 2-0 lead in the second period.
  12. Ryan Callahan skates for first time since injury

    Lightning Strikes

    WINNIPEG — There was a surprise late arrival for the Lightning's morning skate Friday, with RW Ryan Callahan jumping on the ice near the end.

    " 'Cally!' " one player yelled.

    It was the first time Callahan, 29, skated since suffering a lower-body injury in the second period of Monday's game against the Oilers. He was cautious in his strides and did some shooting. Coach Jon Cooper said the veteran is week to week. But for Callahan, it was an encouraging first step....

    Vancouver Canucks' Luca Sbisa, back left, of Switzerland, collides with Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, back right, as Ryan Callahan (24) skates past during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) VCRD101
  13. Lightning-Wild preview

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning at Wild

    When/where: 8, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Wild has been tough to score on, allowing just four goals in its first five games. G Darcy Kuemper (3-1-0) has three shutouts and a 0.50 goals-against average in four starts. … C Mikko Koivu and LW Thomas Vanek are goalless, and the Wild has yet to score a power-play goal (0-for-19). … Lightning G Evgeni Nabokov, expected to start, is 1-1 with a 1.48 GAA in two starts this season. … The teams split the two-game series last season....

  14. Callahan skates, but still week-to-week; Paquette called up


    There was a surprise late arrival for the Lightning's morning skate Friday, with RW Ryan Callahan jumping on the ice near the end.

    "Cally!" one player yelled.

    It was the first time Callahan, 29, skated since suffering a lower-body injury in the second period of Monday's game. Callahan was cautious in his strides, and did some shooting, with coach Jon Cooper saying the veteran is still "week-to-week."...

  15. Lightning likes its defense, wants more offense

    Lightning Strikes

    WINNIPEG — From day one of camp, Lightning coach Jon Cooper preached to his team being better protecting its own net.

    And Tampa Bay has done just that, allowing 1.86 goals per through its first seven heading into tonight's matchup with the Jets. The Lightning's 24.9 shots allowed per game ranks fourth in the league.

    The problem, however, has been putting pucks in the net. Aside from a seven-goal outburst against the Canadiens on Oct. 13, the Lightning (4-2-1) has a combined 14 goals in the other six. Seven goals have come on the power play....

    In Tuesday’s overtime win in Calgary, Valtteri Filppula, left, gave the Lightning what it needs more of by scoring off a rebound. “We need some ugly goals,’’ says Ondrej Palat, who scored the winner off a rebound against the Flames.