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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. Lightning-Blackhawks preview, 7:30 Friday, Amalie Arena

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning vs. Blackhawks

    When/where: 7:30, Amalie Arena

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Blackhawks have been dealt a crushing blow with leading scorer Patrick Kane expected to miss 12 weeks after surgery this week to repair a fractured left clavicle. … Chicago had lost three straight before a 3-2 shootout victory over the Panthers on Tuesday. … The Blackhawks entered Friday's game against the Panthers in Sunrise 14-11-3 since Dec. 21. … Lightning G Ben Bishop, expected to start, is 2-1-1 with a 3.49 goals-against average in four career starts against Chicago. … LW Ondrej Palat has three goals in his past two games....

  2. Q&A with NBC's Pierre McGuire on Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Pierre McGuire said the Lightning is one of the most fun teams in the league to watch.

    The NHL analyst for NBC gets a pretty good view from his post between the benches for broadcasts.

    And Tampa Bay will be on the big stage with two of its next three games on national television, including tonight's showdown with the Blackhawks on the NHL Network (the game will be shown in the Tampa Bay area on its usual channel, Sun Sports). On Tuesday, the Lightning hosts the Sabres on the NBC Sports Network....

    BOSTON, MA - MAY 14:  Television personality Pierre McGuire seen before Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens at the TD Garden on May 14, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
  3. Victor Hedman okay, but Matt Carle still couple weeks away


    Considering the limited Lightning depth on defense, it likely caused some concern when top defenseman Victor Hedman left Thursday's practice early.

    But coach Jon Cooper insisted it was just as a precaution, that Hedman is expected to play Friday against the Blackhawks.

    "He didn't feel right," Cooper said. "But I'm not worried about tomorrow."

    However, it appears defenseman Matt Carle is further away from returning than originally thought. Carle, who had abdominal surgery in mid-January, was expected to be back early next week, at the six-week mark. Carle has been practicing the past few days in a red non-contact jersey....

  4. Lightning sends goalie Vasilevskiy to AHL for spot start

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning sent goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy back to AHL Syracuse for a spot start Wednesday against Rochester, a 4-3 loss, and said after the game he was returning to Tampa Bay.

    The move — with no corresponding player brought up — gave Vasilevskiy a chance to stay fresh and gain a little more experience during the Lightning's four-day break.

    The Lightning returns to action Friday against the Blackhawks. The game is sold out, the team said Wednesday....

    Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stops a shot by Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar in the second period of Tampa Bay's 3-2 loss.   Associated Press
  5. Joe Maddon brings his style to Cubs camp

    The Heater

    MESA, Ariz.

    Everybody knows Joe Maddon marches to his own beat. • So it came as little surprise that the former Rays manager started his first spring training workout with the Cubs on Friday by blaring some of his favorite tunes through a speaker during stretching. From the Rolling Stone's Brown Sugar to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gimme Three Steps to Rush's Tom Sawyer, the Cubs got loose as Maddon, 61, made the rounds, meeting some players for the first time. • "I told the boys I'm a product of the '60s and '70s, and you'll have to put up with that," Maddon said, smiling. • On the same day new Rays manager Kevin Cash and general manager Matt Silverman held their spring-opening news conference in Port Charlotte, Maddon was in Mesa, where he said he cut his teeth as a young manager and scout. With a "cheat sheet" — a roster — in his back pocket, Maddon held several one-on-one conversations, admitting it was different putting on Cubs colors for the first time after being a Ray since 2006. • "Honestly, I was more comfortable than I thought I would be," he said....

    Joe Maddon, who opted out of his Rays contract in October before signing a five-year, $25 million deal with Chicago, has given the franchise - and city - optimism it can bring home a World Series for the first time since 1908. [AP photo]
  6. Andrei Vasilevskiy's work ethic sets him apart

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nobody was blaming rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Avalanche.

    The Lightning felt it hung Vasilevskiy out to dry with bad giveaways, which led to grade-A chances. But Vasilevskiy, 20, was hard on himself, not making any excuses for allowing a season-high five goals on 18 shots.

    "It was good shots," he said. "But if I want to play in the NHL, I need to make the save."...

    Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy needs a web-only caption, please. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times] 
  7. Lightning comeback just short in loss at Colorado

    Lightning Strikes

    DENVER — The Lightning knew Sunday's game would be a tough task, the back end of a back-to-back and final game of a 10-day West Coast trip.

    But coach Jon Cooper felt like, for the most part, his team played well enough to win. The Lightning outshot Colorado 32-18, scoring twice in the final eight minutes to pull within one in a last-second flurry.

    The problem was Tampa Bay dug itself too big of a hole as glaring errors led to goals in a 5-4 loss to the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center....

    Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos breaks his stick as he takes a slap shot. He finishes minus-3 for the game. “Tough to look at positives when we give up that many turnovers,” he says.
  8. Steven Stamkos aiming for simplicity

    Lightning Strikes

    DENVER — C Steven Stamkos is one of the game's top stars, and is capable of making a highlight-reel play at any moment.

    But after a couple of bad turnovers led to opposition goals the past few weeks, Stamkos said he's learning that, sometimes, a simple play is what's best.

    With the Lightning up two midway through the third period of Saturday's 4-2 win over Arizona, Stamkos took the puck up the boards in Coyotes zone to the blueline. Mark Arcobello stole the puck from Stamkos and scored a breakaway goal that gave Arizona some life....

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a turnover Saturday against the Coyotes that led to a goal and says he can't make those kinds of mistakes.   Getty Images
  9. Steven Stamkos plans to learn from costly turnovers


    Lightning center Steven Stamkos is one of the game's top stars, and is capable of making a highlight-reel play at any moment.

    But after a couple of bad turnovers led to opponent's goals the past few weeks, Stamkos said he's learning that, sometimes, a simple play is what's best.

    With the Lightning up two midway through the third period of Saturday's 4-2 win over Arizona, Stamkos took the puck up the boards in Coyotes zone to the blueline. Mark Arcobello stole the puck from Stamkos, going down for a breakaway goal that gave Arizona some life....

  10. Lightning continues strong trip with win at Arizona

    Lightning Strikes

    GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Lightning didn't want to waste the strong start to its road trip by scuffling at the end.

    And despite making Saturday night's game a little too interesting, Tampa Bay held on for an admittedly ugly 4-2 win over the Coyotes at Gila River Arena. In handing Arizona its fifth straight loss, the Lightning (37-18-6) has taken three of the first four games of its 10-day West Coast trip, with the finale today in Denver against the Avalanche....

    Lightning forward Brett Connolly races with the puck ahead of the Coyotes’ Mark Arcobello during the first period.
  11. Lightning hangs tight as trade deadline looms

    Lightning Strikes

    GLENDALE, Ariz — With the March 2 trade deadline just over a week away, the Lightning doesn't appear close to making a deal.

    General manager Steve Yzerman indicated "nothing has changed," from what he said last week, that he's in the market for a veteran defenseman, but the asking prices are higher than he's prepared to pay.

    And if Tampa Bay doesn't make a move, coach Jon Cooper said he's comfortable with the team he has....

    Lightning defenseman Matt Carle, right, could be the biggest benefit at the trade deadline just by coming back healthy.
  12. West Coast trip proving ground for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coach Jon Cooper said there was uncertainty surrounding his team heading into this West Coast trip.

    "Who are we?"

    Sure, the Lightning had played well, hovering near the top of the Eastern Conference, but that was buoyed by a dominating home record (22-6-1). On the road, Tampa Bay was average at best. And it has struggled out west, going 0-3-1 and outscored 17-6 in last season's trip here....

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper talks with his team on the bench against the Nashville Predators during third period of preseason hockey action at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa Thursday evening (09/19/13).
  13. Lightning-Avalanche preview capsule

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning at Avalanche

    When/where: 7, Pepsi Center, Denver

    TV/radio: Sun Sports, 970-AM

    Key stats: The Avalanche (25-23-11) is in last place in the Central Division, 12th in the Western Conference. But Colorado has won three of its past four after beating the Blackhawks Friday in Chicago. The Lightning beat the Avalanche 3-2 in a shootout in the team's first meeting Jan. 17 in Tampa. G Andrei Vasilevskiy, expected to start tonight, is 3-2-1 with a 2.16 goals against average in six road starts.


  14. Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Paquette and golf; players not fans of analytics

    Lightning Strikes

    Short shift with C Cedric Paquette

    Must TiVo TV Show: Friday Night Lights.

    You ever play football? No, I can't even throw one.

    Second-best sport? I played a lot of soccer. Midfield.

    Favorite piece of memorabilia: I have a puck signed by Sidney Crosby, when he was playing in juniors.

    What would be your job if not in hockey? I'd like to be a golfer. I like the sport, the life....

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) celebrates his first goal of the game with his team as he return s to the bench against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second period action at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa Tuesday evening (04/08/14).
  15. Lightning's Connolly showing more fight

    Lightning Strikes

    GLENDALE, Ariz. — Before this season, wing Brett Connolly said he can't remember if he ever got into a fight as a pro.

    "Maybe once in two years," he said.

    Connolly, 22, has always been a scorer with a slick shot, a reason why he was the sixth overall pick in 2010. But lately, Connolly has added more bite — and fight — to his game.

    Connolly said it's part of adapting to a bottom-six role, realizing he can spark the team without scoring. The 6-foot, 181-pound forward is finishing checks, leading the Lightning in hits the past two games heading into tonight's matchup with the Coyotes. He's ticking off opponents, having fun doing it. ...

    Lightning 181-pound wing Brett Connolly, left, takes on 220-pound Anthony Bitetto of the Predators.