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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: Stamkos' 'fake' teeth bite or no bite; octopus at Amalie Arena

    Lightning Strikes

    Rumor of the day

    An Internet rumor surfaced that Steven Stamkos bit a Red Wing during a Game 2 scrum. Stamkos got a kick out of it: "My teeth, they're all fake. They'll fall out if I bite somebody." Judge for yourself; see a photo of the alleged bite on 14C.

    Quote of the day

    "I'll be in the hot tub by 10 tonight. The sun's going to come up tomorrow. We've got a five-game series against Tampa. Looks like it's going to be fun."...

  2. Lightning's Andrej Sustr scores first goal in year

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — D Andrej Sustr is a very popular player in the Lightning locker room.

    But teammates have made it a running joke in reminding the 6-foot-7 Czech of his goal drought, with zero goals in this regular season and just one in 117 career games. Needless to say, when Sustr scored with five minutes left in the second period of Saturday's 5-1 win over the Red Wings in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series, the bench erupted....

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr (62) (center) celebrates his goal as he returns to the bench during second period action in game two of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday afternoon (04/18/15).
  3. Lightning rolls over Wings, evens series at 1

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos wouldn't go as far as to call Saturday a "must-win" game.

    But you could tell from the start of Tampa Bay's 5-1 win over the Red Wings in Game 2 how much the Lightning felt it needed this one, tying the best-of-seven first-round playoff series at 1.

    With the sting of last year's first-round sweep by the Canadiens still fresh in its psyche, the Lightning couldn't afford a here-we-go-again moment....

    Tyler Johnson, back left, beats Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek on a power play 3:05 into the game for the Lightning’s first goal. The Lightning goes 2-for-4 on the power play after an 0-for-7 in Game 1.
  4. Bishop confident Game 1 was just blip (with video)

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — This certainly wasn't how Ben Bishop envisioned his Stanley Cup playoffs debut shaking out.

    After having waited parts of six seasons to get his first postseason start, it took nearly nine minutes Thursday before he saw — or rather, didn't see — his first shot, a Pavel Datsyuk deflection that went in through a screen.

    Bishop, 28, gave up two goals on the first four shots he faced and three on 14 overall, numbers that don't look good, especially after the Lightning dominated in a 3-2 loss to the Red Wings in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference series....

    The puck bounces in the net behind Lightning goalie Ben Bishop as Henrik Zetterberg cheers the Red Wings taking a 1-0 lead on their first shot in Game 1.
  5. Lightning: Wings rarity; Boyle's ears hurt; Sustr's heavy heart

    Lightning Strikes

    Numbers game

    The Red Wings' 3-2 victory in Game 1 on Thursday came despite Detroit racking up just 14 shots, a rare low. Detroit has been limited to fewer than 15 shots only once in the past 10 regular seasons and has won only one such regular-season game over the past four decades (1-10-2), the Elias Sports Bureau said. Detroit was only the seventh team over the past 10 seasons to win a playoff game in which it took fewer than 15 shots on goal....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Boyle (11) on the bench with head coach Jon Cooper during second period action in game one of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (04/16/15).
  6. Lightning wants more pressure on Wings goalie Mrazek

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — As much as the Lightning gave credit to Red Wings rookie G Petr Mzarek for his 44 saves in his 3-2 Game 1 win Thursday, the team feels like it needs to make it harder on him today in Game 2.

    "Part of the problem is we let Mrazek see a lot of (the shots)," coach Jon Cooper said.

    The Lightning spent a portion of Friday's practice on two-on-one battle drills, and it hopes to put more traffic in front of Mrazek. Plus, Tampa Bay needs to capitalize on rebounds. The Red Wings did a good job of tying up the Lightning in front of their net. ...

    Lightning center Brian Boyle gets a shorthanded goal against  Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek with in-your-face pressure in Game 1. “You’ve got to will pucks in sometimes” in the playoffs, Boyle says.
  7. Drouin disappointed to be scratched; Garrison not ready


    Lightning rookie wing Jonathan Drouin was playing some of his best hockey down the stretch, his confidence rising.

    But Drouin, 20, was a healthy scratch for Thursday's Game 1 loss to the Red Wings, and isn't sure if he's going to play Saturday in Game 2 at Amalie Arena. Coach Jon Cooper would only say Friday that "everybody's available," except for defenseman Jason Garrison (upper body)....

  8. Lightning falls to Red Wings in Game 1 (with video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said Thursday was one of the best games the Lightning has played in this record-setting season.

    Tampa Bay dominated the Red Wings for most of Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, outshooting them 46-14.

    "I couldn't have drawn the game up any better than the way we played it," coach Jon Cooper said.

    "You probably win 9½ out of 10 of those games," Stamkos said....

    The Lightning’s Brian Boyle slides toward Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek to score a shorthanded goal in the first period to tie the score at 1.
  9. Lightning injury returns mean tough decisions

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning got D Braydon Coburn (lower body), D Andrej Sustr (upper body) and C Alex Killorn (undisclosed) back in the lineup for Game 1's 3-2 loss to the Red Wings on Thursday night.

    D Jason Garrison (upper body) was out but is getting closer to returning. Coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning will evaluate him game by game.

    With the Lightning nearly back to full strength, it made for some tough lineup decisions. Rookie LW Jonathan Drouin and D Mark Barberio were the odd men out as healthy scratches. ...

    Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr, going against Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg, is one of three regulars back from injuries in Game 1.
  10. Lightning: Yoda T's, Cooper jokes, Bishop's playoff past

    Lightning Strikes

    Motto of the day

    The Lightning broke out new T-shirts after Thursday's morning skate. On the front was the Stanley Cup playoffs logo. On the back was Star Wars' Yoda and his famous line "Do or do not, there is no try."

    Quote of the day

    "I probably would have come up here last year and looked at everybody and been a little nervous. Now it's like having you over for dinner."...

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and several other Lightning players rock the Yoda quote on the back of their shirts as they kick around the soccer ball before taking to the ice against the Detroit Red Wings for game one of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (04/16/15).
  11. Lightning playoff opener is sold out


    The Lightning announced Thursday afternoon that Game 1 of its first round playoff series with the Red Wings is sold out. There are still limited number of tickets available for Game 2 Saturday.

    Tonight's game starts at 7:30 pm and is televised locally on Fox Sports Florida.

    The Lightning announced this afternoon that Game 1 of its first round playoff series with the Red Wings is sold out.
  12. Coburn, Sustr, Killorn in; Drouin and Barberio out for Game 1


    The Lightning will get defensemen Braydon Coburn and Andrej Sustr, along with forward Alex Killorn back in the lineup for tonight's Game 1 against the Red Wings.

    Defenseman Jason Garrison is out, but getting closer.

    But those players coming back made for some tough lineup decisions, and it appears rookie wing Jonathan Drouin and defenseman Mark Barberio will be scratched for the first-round opener at Amalie Arena. Rookie defenseman Nikita Nesterov is in, and if Drouin is out, J.T. Brown will join Brian Boyle and Brenden Morrow on the fourth line....

    It appears that rookie wing Jonathan Drouin, pictured, and defenseman Mark Barberio will be scratched for tonight's game.
  13. Ben Bishop is Lightning's rock

    Lightning Strikes

    A helpless feeling engulfed Ben Bishop during last season's playoffs as the Canadiens swept Tampa Bay in six days. • In a desperate attempt to help his team, the injured Lightning goaltender constantly switched his vantage points during games, hoping that would magically do the trick. • "I watched them in every different parts of both rinks, trying to change the karma," Bishop says, chuckling. "I saw them from the locker room, the (team) box, the press box. The trainer's room. I was pretty antsy." • So was the Lightning, with the rookie-laden team unable to mentally recover after watching a dislocated elbow end its No. 1 goalie's season a week before Game 1. • " 'Bish' was our rock all season long," center Tyler Johnson says. "When he goes down like that right before the playoffs, when we're already nervous and hyped up for it, it played a role. You think differently. Unfortunately for us, I thought we overreacted a little bit to it, and that showed in the series."...

  14. Advice from Lightning's playoff veterans

    Lightning Strikes

    Though the Lightning is a young team, it has several veterans who have provided a calming influence this season. Those who have experienced deep playoff runs discuss how their teams did it and if this team has similar characteristics.

    Center Valtteri Filppula

    Playoff games: 109

    (Won Stanley Cup with Red Wings in 2008)

    "I think you always need a lot of things to go your way. Everything starts with your goalie. Our goalie (in 2008, Chris Osgood) played unbelievable. That's what we need (this year). You need to not get injuries. (In 2008) we didn't really have them; everyone was fairly healthy. Obviously you move on, you play well, you get a sense of feeling like you're going to be tough to beat. That's what we're trying to do this year. I think we have all the pieces. We've been playing really well. I think we played really well last year in the regular season and then the playoffs didn't go how we wanted. Just got to take it a game at a time, play our best and hope to move on."...

  15. Lightning gains reinforcements from injury list

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — The Lightning will be at almost full strength by tonight's Game 1 of its first-round playoff series with the Red Wings.

    "I don't think everyone is playing," coach Jon Cooper said Wednesday. "But we'll be close."

    Cooper said he expected veteran D Braydon Coburn, out since March 10 with a lower-body injury, to play tonight. D Andrej Sustr (upper body) said he would be ready to go. LW Alex Killorn (undisclosed) was expected to play, too....

    Defenseman Braydon Coburn, a trade deadline acquisition, has been out since March 10 with a lower-body injury. He is expected to play tonight.