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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. Lightning mirrors Red Wings' blueprint for success

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    When the Lightning faced the Red Wings on Thursday, it was almost like looking in the mirror.

    And it was not just because the teams entered the game No. 1 and No. 2 in the Atlantic Division.

    Of course, Detroit — dubbed "Hockeytown" — has far more tradition and Stanley Cups. Its streak of 23 consecutive playoff berths is remarkable.

    But the Red Wings have served as a model for Tampa Bay, run by former Detroit captain and legend Steve Yzerman. When Yzerman took over as Lightning general manager in 2010, he made no short-term guarantees. He knew success would take patience and a plan. ...

    Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman watches as players practice down on the ice from the second floor viewing area during the 2014 Lightning Development Camp at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.
  2. Lightning Nuts & Bolts: World Cup views, Super Bowl sides

    Lightning Strikes

    Short shift with D Luke Witkowski

    Must-TiVO TV show: Walking Dead. It's up there with Modern Family.

    Favorite movie: Top three? I'd say Troy, Patriot and Gladiator.

    Second-best sport growing up: Fishing or hunting? If you don't count those, I ran a lot of track. Ran the 2-mile, mile and 800.

    Are you a better hunter or fisher? Both are recreational, so it's not really competitive, but I know more about fishing....

    Tampa Bay Lightning Steven Stamkos on the ice before  a face-off against Dallas Stars during third period preseason game action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on Friday (09/26/14).
  3. Lightning-Blue Jackets, 7:30 Saturday, Amalie Arena

    Lightning Strikes

    .tonight

    Lightning vs. Blue Jackets

    When/where: 7:30; Amalie Arena

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Blue Jackets have dropped two of their past three games, including Thursday to the Panthers. … They are without Vezina Trophy-winning G Sergei Bobrovsky, out 4-6 weeks with a groin injury. … The Lightning has won a franchise-record nine straight home games. … Columbus beat the Lightning 3-1 on Dec. 6 at Amalie Arena.. … Lightning LW Alex Killorn has two goals and three assists in his past five games....

  4. Lightning's Cedric Paquette finally has a home

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — For the first three months Cedric Paquette spent with the Lightning this season, every day had some uncertainty.

    Paquette, 21, lived out of a suitcase in a downtown Tampa hotel, his meals coming typically from two sources: room service or Jackson's restaurant in nearby Harbour Island.

    All the while, he was waiting for a tap on the shoulder to tell him he was going back to AHL Syracuse. ...

    Cedric Paquette has four goals in his past two games, including a hat trick.
  5. Where do the Lightning's hat-trick hats go?

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — As soon as Lightning center Cedric Paquette capped off his first NHL hat trick Thursday night, dozens of hats were tossed from the stands onto the ice at Amalie Arena.

    It's a long-standing tradition, occurring in arenas all over in hockey. So what happens to those hats that fans blissfully throw away during the celebration?

    Turns out, they're often put to good use. In the past, the Lightning has given them away to places such as Metropolitan Ministries and Moffitt Cancer Center, said Bill Wickett, executive vice president of marketing and communications. This year the Lightning has had four hat tricks — Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson had the others — with the hats stored in a closet in the bowels of Amalie Arena....

    The Lightning has given to charities hats thrown for hat tricks, such as these for Nikita Kucherov’s on Oct. 28 vs. Arizona.
  6. Cedric Paquette finding a home with Lightning

    Blog

    For the first three months Cedric Paquette spent with the Lightning this season, he was living out of a downtown hotel.

    Most of his meals came via room service or takeout at Jackson's in nearby Harbor Island. Everything seemed day-to-day, including his status with the team.

    “Honestly, the last three months of my life, I was coming to the rink, and I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said....

  7. What happens to hats tossed during hockey hat tricks?

    Blog

    As soon as Lightning center Cedric Paquette capped off his first hat trick Thursday night, dozens of hats were tossed down from the stands onto the ice at Amalie Arena.

    It's a long-standing tradition, occurring in arenas all over the National Hockey League.

    Ever curious what ever happens to those hats you gladly throw away during the celebration?

    Turns out, they're often put to good use. In the past, the Lightning has given them away to places like Metropolitan Ministries and Moffitt Cancer Center, according to Bill Wickett, executive VP of marketing and communications. This year, the Lightning has had four (Paquette, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson) hat tricks, with the hats stored in a closet in the bowels of Amalie Arena....

  8. Lightning buries Red Wings

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — What Cedric Paquette does best typically doesn't end up on the score sheet.

    The gritty center does all the thankless dirty work in the corners and on the penalty kill. He probably blocks more shots than he takes.

    So when Paquette, 21, delivered an improbable hat trick on a big stage Thursday night, lifting the Lightning to a 5-1 win over the Red Wings, the whole bench went wild. Jonathan Drouin stood up on his seat and screamed as many in the mixed-fan sellout crowd of 19,204 at Amalie Arena tossed hats onto the ice....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette (13) leaps into the glass to celebrate his goal, the first of the game, against Detroit Red Wings during first period action at the Amalie Arena. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times] 
  9. Lightning's Tyler Johnson has Red Wings ties

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Imagine this: Lightning C Tyler Johnson in a Red Wings uniform.

    Turns out, it might have been fitting. Detroit coach Mike Babcock goes way back with Johnson, having coached in the center's hometown, Spokane, Wash., from 1994-2000. Babcock said Johnson's mother, Debbie, taught his kids how to skate.

    "It's unbelievable he's not a Red Wing," quipped Babcock, whose Red Wings played the Lightning on Thursday. "I could have hand delivered that guy so easy it's not even funny. Should have mentioned that a few times."...

    Tyler Johnson has known Detroit coach Mike Babcock for so long, Babcock remembers him “being a little pip-squeak.”
  10. Lightning views tonight's game with Red Wings as a measuring stick

    Blog

    The Lightning enters tonight's showdown with the Red Wings trailing by just one point atop the Atlantic Division.

    But coach Jon Cooper made the pecking order pretty clear.

    "People can say what they want, we're playing the best team in the league, the Eastern Conference right here," Cooper said. "I think everything goes through them. They're the real deal. This is a game to see where you're at. That's how good I think these guys are."...

    Lightning right wing J.T. Brown is in, and veteran left wing Brenden Morrow is out.
  11. Lightning-Red Wings preview, 7:30 Thursday, Amalie Arena

    Lightning Strikes

    .tonight

    Lightning vs. Red Wings

    When/where: 7:30, Amalie Arena

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Red Wings have won six in a row and eight of 10, moving into first place in the Atlantic Division. … Detroit G Petr Mrazek has been impressive in filling in for injured All-Star Jimmy Howard, going 5-0-0 in his past six starts. … The Lightning has beaten Detroit five of the past six meetings, including a 4-3 shootout victory Nov. 9 in Detroit. … Detroit has the second-best power play in the league, at 25.3 percent. … Lightning G Ben Bishop, expected to start tonight, is 5-1-0 with a 1.69 goals-against average in seven career games against Detroit. … The Lightning has tied a club record with eight straight home wins and is 19-4-1 at Amalie Arena this season....

  12. Lightning tries to build power-play strength

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — With the Lightning power-play units in a funk, coach Jon Cooper said there "was a little fire in their bellies" during Wednesday's practice.

    It started with a switch. Touted rookie Jonathan Drouin joined the first group with captain Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Valtteri Filppula and Anton Stralman. The "Triplets" line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov were with Brett Connolly and Jason Garrison. The team worked five-on-four and six-on-five situations....

    Rookie Jonathan Drouin is put on the first power-play unit at Wednesday’s practice.
  13. Lightning try to get "mojo" back on power play

    Blog

    With the Lightning power play fizzling as of late, it switched up its personnel at Wednesday's practice.

    Touted rookie Jonathan Drouin joined the first unit with captain Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan and Valtteri Filppula. The "Triplets" line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov were with Brett Connolly.

    "Just trying to get the mojo back," assistant Steve Thomas said....

  14. Lightning loses at Hurricanes

    Lightning Strikes

    RALEIGH, N.C. — The Lightning figured it might be a little rusty coming out of the All-Star break.

    What it didn't envision was falling behind two goals in the first six minutes Tuesday against last-place Carolina, including giving up an own goal 22 seconds in. Both came on unlucky bounces, but that offered little solace.

    "Terrible," coach Jon Cooper said. "Unacceptable."

    Cooper called timeout, and the Lightning responded, but it wasn't enough in a 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes at the PNC Center....

    Nathan Gerbe puts the Hurricanes up 2-0 when a shot caroms off the back boards to give him a shot at an open net during the first period. It was the second fortunate bounce for Carolina.
  15. Tyler Johnson returns for Lightning against Hurricanes

    Lightning Strikes

    RALEIGH, N.C. — For the past two days, Lightning C Tyler Johnson appeared unsure if he'd play Tuesday night.

    Johnson, 24, had pulled out of Sunday's All-Star Game due to a lingering lower-body injury. He participated in Monday's practice and Tuesday's morning skate, but said not to read too much into it — he'd be a game-time decision.

    But it wasn't a surprise to see Johnson in the lineup against the Hurricanes....

    Carolina Hurricanes' Victor Rask (49) defends as Tampa Bay Lightning's Tyler Johnson (9) skates for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) NCGB101