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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


Lightning Strikes

  1. What we've learned about Lightning at quarter mark of season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA —The Lightning can light up the scoreboard like few teams in the league.

    But coaches challenged players Saturday morning to win a 2-1 game, the type of drag-out, defensive battle it will encounter during a playoff push. And the Lightning did just that that night, outlasting the Wild 2-1 at Amalie Arena.

    "We blocked shots, we sacrificed," captain Steven Stamkos said. "We found a way to hang on."...

    Jason Garrison, far left, and Steven Stamkos, second from left, are two key reasons the Lightning has been able to weather a rash of injuries to start the season, including one that has kept top defenseman Victor Hedman out five weeks.
  2. Lightning edges Wild

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Of all Alex Killorn's goals, Saturday's winner late in the second period wasn't the most highlight-reel worthy.

    But Killorn did what he was taught to do, take his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame to the net. He got to only the slot by the time Anton Stralman's point shot deflected off his right skate past goalie Darcy Kuemper to lift Tampa Bay to a 2-1 victory over the Wild in front of 19,204 at Amalie Arena. It snapped a two-game losing streak for Tampa Bay (14-6-2), which finished a stretch of 10 games in 17 days 6-3-1....

    Tampa Bay Lightning players congratulate goalie Ben Bishop (30) at the end of the game as he held off a 6 on 4 advantage during the the final minute against the Minnesota Wild at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (11/22/14).
  3. Mark Barberio tries to keep his game simple

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — For the first 18 games, D Mark Barberio was mostly a spectator, a healthy scratch in all but three.

    Barberio, 24, knows the drill, having sat for long stretches last season. That helped him mentally prepare for this time around. But as Barberio cracked the lineup Saturday against the Wild for the third time in the past four games, he said he has found that by keeping things simple, he can have success. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning Mark Barberio (8) (center) celebrates his game winning goal along with his team after beating Nashville Predators goalie Marek Mazanec (39) in the third period during preseason hockey at the Amalie Arena in Tampa (09/23/14).
  4. Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Callahan on AC/DC; Namestnikov on Tonight Show; Stamkos on fighting

    Lightning Strikes

    Short shift With RW Ryan Callahan

    Must-TiVo TV Show: Sons of Anarchy

    Second-best sport: I played soccer growing up. I don't know if I was any good at it.

    Best concert: AC/DC at (Madison Square) Garden. Couple years ago when they did their reunion tour. It was awesome.

    If you weren't a hockey player: I may be a school teacher. My mom was a school teacher. I always looked up to her....

    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).
  5. Mark Barberio, Cedric Paquette back in, Brewer, Namestnikov out


    For the first 18 games, defenseman Mark Barberio was mostly a spectator, a healthy scratch in all but three.

    But Barberio was back in the lineup Saturday night for the third time in the past four games. He said he's learned that by playing a simple game, he's able to perform well despite sporadic action. He's a minus-1 in five games.

    "It just comes with more time in the league," Barberio said. "Maybe I've settled in more, get more poise back there, where last year, when I was coming in I was really jumpy and almost had a bit of happy feet. Kind of tried to do too much this year, letting the game come to me and keep things simple as possible."...

  6. Thank Marty St. Louis for demanding a trade

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Marty St. Louis will make his anticipated return to Amalie Arena on Wednesday night.

    Whether fans decide to boo or cheer is up to them. But what should they also do?

    Thank him.

    It might sound strange, but the Lightning is way better off now — and will be in the future — because it succumbed to St. Louis' trade demands in March.

    Stay with me now. At the time, it hurt, the captain leaving his team in the middle of a playoff push. St. Louis, 39, is arguably the greatest player in franchise history. He won a Hart Trophy and brought a Stanley Cup to Tampa Bay. None of that is forgotten....

    Despite the negative fan reaction over Marty St. Louis' departure, the deal may have set the Lightning up for a bright future. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
  7. Lightning-Wild Saturday night preview

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning vs. Wild

    When/where: 7, Amalie Arena

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Wild has won four in a row, including a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday night. It beat Tampa Bay 7-2 in Minnesota on Oct. 25 in the teams' previous meeting. … Minnesota has scored just one power-play goal in its past 35 attempts on the road. … C Mikko Koivu (illness) may not play for the Wild. … RW Nino Niederreiter leads the Wild with nine goals and is tied for the team lead with 12 points. … Minnesota ranks fifth in penalty kill (88.1 percent). … Lightning LW Alex Killorn has three goals in his past three games. … Tampa Bay is 7-2-1 at home....

  8. Lightning affiliate Syracuse to set U.S. hockey indoor attendance record


    After the Syracuse Crunch became part of the first-ever outdoor game in the history of the American Hockey League in 2010, Crunch owner Howard Dolgon asked the question.

    "What can do we do next," he said.

    Chief Operating Officer Jim Sarosy said, "Why don't we do a game at the Carrier Dome?"

    It was an ambitious dream, considering the Carrier Dome had featured games with some of the best college basketball/football players in its 30-plus year history. It'll host a regional in the NCAA Tournament this season....

  9. Lightning motivated to stop skid at 2

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — It's been nearly a month, but the Lightning hasn't forgotten the beating the Wild handed it the last time the teams met.

    "They tossed us around," coach Jon Cooper said.

    "They pumped us pretty good," defenseman Matt Carle said.

    The Wild thumped Tampa Bay 7-2 on Oct. 25 in Minnesota. And considering Tampa Bay has lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time this season, it enters tonight's rematch at Amalie Arena pretty ticked off....

    ST. PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 25: Marco Scandella #6 of the Minnesota Wild scores a goal against Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the game on October 25, 2014 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
  10. Lightning loses to Leafs

    Lightning Strikes

    TORONTO — Captain Steven Stamkos knew the Maple Leafs would come out "hungry" Thursday night, motivated after back-to-back bad losses.

    The question is, why didn't the Lightning?

    After all, as Stamkos pointed out, Tampa Bay was coming off a rough loss itself, 5-2 to the Islanders on Tuesday.

    But Tampa Bay didn't match Toronto's desperation in a disappointing 5-2 loss that left coach Jon Cooper searching for reasons his team didn't "answer the bell." This is the first time this season Tampa Bay (13-6-2) has lost two straight games in regulation....

    Richard Panik, claimed off waivers by Toronto from the Lighting last month, cheers his goal that turns out to be the winner.
  11. Victor Hedman takes next recovery step

    Lightning Strikes

    TORONTO — D Victor Hedman took the next step in his recovery from a fractured finger Thursday, participating in a team skate in a red no-contact jersey.

    Hedman, out since Oct. 18, wore a splint but took shots for the first time.

    "It makes you nervous as a coach because I saw him wind up with one, and I looked right at our trainers right away and said, 'Is that allowed?' " coach Jon Cooper said....

    Defenseman Victor Hedman, out since Oct. 18 with a fractured finger, gets the okay to start shooting in practice.
  12. Vladislav Namestnikov featured on "Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon


    Lightning rookie center Vladislav Namestnikov may not be a household name yet, but his name earned him a mention on the "Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon Tuesday night.

    Fallon was doing a segment on the "Pros and Cons" of Las Vegas potentially getting an NHL team. One of the reasons was "the best way to see names like Varlamov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Alexei Ponikarovsky." The con? "Besides taking an eye exam." Namestnikov (vla-dih-SLAHV nah-MEHST-nih-kawv) doesn't think his name is that hard to pronounce, but got a kick of out of the clip....

  13. Victor Hedman joins team skate; Brett Connolly back in lineup


    Lightning defensemana Victor Hedman took the next step in his recovery from a fractured finger on Thursday, participating in the team's morning skate for the first time.

    Hedman, out since Oct. 18, wore a red non-contact jersey and and still used a splint, but took a couple slap shots.

    "It makes you nervous as a coach, because I saw him wind up with one and I looked right at our trainers right away and said, 'Is that allowed?" coach Jon Cooper said....

    Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman on the ice during an October game against the Ottawa Senators at Amalie Arena.
  14. Lightning-Maple Leafs Thursday night preview

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning at Maple Leafs

    When/where: 7:30, Air Canada Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Maple Leafs are a mess, having dropped three straight, including losses to Buffalo and Nashville (at home) by a combined score of 16-4. And now the Lightning (13-5-2), the second-highest-scoring team in the league, comes to town with hometown star C Steven Stamkos (12 goals, 10 assists). … Stamkos has 13 goals and 13 assists in 21 career games against Toronto. … The Maple Leafs are 5-6 at home. … C Cedric Paquette (lower-body injury) is considered day to day. … RW Brett Connolly (lower body) could return to the lineup. … G Ben Bishop, expected to start, is 3-4 with a 2.99 GAA in nine career starts against Toronto....

  15. Cedric Paquette considered day to day


    The Lightning got some encouraging news on the injury front Wednesday as center Cedric Paquette is considered just day-to-day with a lower body injury.

    Paquette, 21, suffered the injury blocking a shot early in the first period Tuesday night against the Islanders, and didn't return.

    Paquette had been playing so well, scoring five goals in his previous six games while becoming one of the team's most reliable penalty killers. It had been hard for coach Jon Cooper to take him out of the lineup....