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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's Ryan Callahan breaks his goal drought

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Before Sunday's Game 5 in New York, Lightning coach Jon Cooper predicted RW Ryan Callahan would break his postseason scoring drought.

    It turns out Cooper was off by a game.

    Callahan ended his slump Tuesday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Rangers with a breakaway goal on a power play in the first period. The former Rangers captain took a pass from D Anton Stralman and made a move on G Henrik Lundqvist, backhanding a shot in for his first playoff goal since May 19, 2013, when Callahan was with the Rangers. ...

    Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan brings job to his teammates are well as himself after scoring in the first period of Game 6, his first playoff goal since 2013.
  2. Lighting: Stamkos' favorite omelet; some fans are animals

    Lightning Strikes

    Egg it up

    Many Lightning players were asked about what was on their mind Tuesday morning, being one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup final. C Steven Stamkos quipped he was thinking about the omelet he'd have for breakfast: "Little bacon, tomatoes, assortment of peppers and a little cheese. All organic, of course."

    These fans are animals

    The Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa showed its support for the Lightning, posting on Twitter photographs of animals including a penguin and a snake posing with Lightning signs: "@TBLightning fans come in all shapes & sizes! #GoBolts from your friends @LowryParkZoo."...

    DETROIT, MI - MARCH 28: Brenden Morrow #10 of the Tampa Bay Lightning watches the action from the bench during a NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings on March 28, 2015 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Wings defeated the Lightning 4-0 (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
  3. Lightning gets a lift as Steven Stamkos hits his stride at exactly the right time

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Before these playoffs, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos got some key advice from a Hall of Famer.

    General manager Steve Yzerman, who won three Stanley Cups as the Red Wings' iconic captain, told Stamkos that the postseason "never goes according to plan."

    "Expect the unexpected," Yzerman said. "It takes time to get going. Rely on your teammates to pick up the slack. I said, 'As the captain of the team, just keep plugging right along.' And that's what he's done."...

    Lightning center Steven Stamkos has scored in four consecutive playoff games, tying a franchise record.
  4. Lightning shuts out Rangers, one win from Stanley Cup final (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — Captain Steven Stamkos pointed out a "harsh reality" before Sunday's Game 5 against the Rangers.

    "Some guys in this room may never get the chance to get this far again," he said.

    Stamkos' message was simple: embrace the moment, leave it all on the line.

    And the Lightning did just that in a 2-0 victory, pulling within one win of playing for the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay took a 3-2 series lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final....

    Captain Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat are ready for a hug after teaming up for a power-play goal in the second period to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead. Stamkos scores in his fourth straight game.
  5. Stamkos extends his hot streak (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — The "Triplets" line carried the Lightning during the first two rounds of the playoffs.

    But captain Steven Stamkos is heating up, making the Lightning a more dangerous two-line team.

    Stamkos scored again in Sunday's 2-0 Game 5 win in the Eastern Conference final against the Rangers, giving him goals in four straight games, which ties a franchise playoff record also held by Vinny Lecavalier (2007) and Marty St. Louis (2003)....

    Steven Stamkos finishes a tic-tac-toe passing play with a power-play goal that gives the Lightning a 2-0 Game 5 lead.
  6. Lightning: A harsh reality; things are getting testy

    Lightning Strikes

    Quote of the day

    "The harsh reality is, some guys in this room may never get the chance to get this far again. We are so close, and we worked so hard to get here, it would be a waste not to leave it all on the line."

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (right), on embracing being so close to the Stanley Cup final

    Getting testy

    Rangers RW Kevin Hayes traded verbal jabs with Lightning C Tyler Johnson in Friday's Game 4 of the conference final, then snuck in a slash to the All-Star's stomach in the third period. Why the scuffles? "It's just how the game went," Hayes told "You play each other seven times in about 14 days, you get sick of one another."...

  7. Lightning putting focus on defensive end


    With two of the highest scoring teams in the league meeting up in this Eastern Conference Final, there was expected to be some offensive firepower.

    But the fact the winning team has scored five or more goals in each of the last three games isn't exactly how the Lightning and Rangers drew this one up.

    "Eventually it will probably calm down," coach Jon Cooper said." But I'm sure (coach Alain Vigneault) and I are probably losing a few follicles. But the fans out there are probably having one heck of a time watching the games....

    Ben Bishop has allowed five goals in back to back games for the first time since 2011.
  8. Lightning needs more secondary scoring


    Veteran wing Ryan Callahan, who racked up 24 goals in the regular season, hasn't scored a goal in the first 16 games of these playoffs.

    But coach Jon Cooper bets that ends in Game 5.

    "Probably tonight's the night he's going to score," Cooper said. "Because he does that on big stages."

    Either way, the Lightning could use some more secondary scoring if it wants to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. While the Triplets (Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat) have carried the Lightning, tallying 25 of the 42 goals, and Steven Stamkos' line has heated up as of late, Tampa Bay doesn't have a goal from the bottom-six forwards since Game 2 against Montreal....

    Ryan Callahan, who racked up 24 goals in the regular season, hasn't scored a goal in the first 16 games of these playoffs.
  9. Matt Carle could be available tonight


    Veteran defenseman Matt Carle was back on the ice Sunday for the morning skate, and there's a chance he returns for tonight's Game 5.

    "I think he's going to be available," coach Jon Cooper said.

    Carle missed Game 4 after suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 3 in a collision with the Rangers' Derek Stepan midway through the first period.

    "I didn't see him at all," Carle said. "It was a blindside hit."...

    Matt Carle missed Game 4 after suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 3 in a collision with the Rangers' Derek Stepan midway through the first period.
  10. Lightning's Bishop now in goalie hot seat

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist spent a lot of time before Friday's Game 4 walking around and "soul searching."

    The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner was stunned after giving up six goals in back-to-back games for the second time in his Hall-of-Fame-caliber career. Lundqvist knew he had to bounce back against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference final, and he did brilliantly in a 5-1 victory, racking up 38 saves, 18 coming in a second period that Tampa Bay dominated....

    In Game 4’s 5-1 loss, Lightning goalie Ben Bishop says, “there were a couple of lucky bounces … saves that I’d like to make.”
  11. Rangers overwhelm Lightning, tie series at 2 (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes


    Nikita Kucherov, the hero Wednesday night, found himself wide open in the slot early in Friday's Game 4. l He missed the net — high and wide. l A few minutes later, Tyler Johnson, the NHL's leading playoff scorer, had Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist beat but ripped a shot off the crossbar. Ping. l Alex Killorn had two breakaways in the first two periods. l Nada. l "We didn't have the puck luck tonight," Johnson said. l The Lightning lost to the Rangers 5-1, disappointing a sellout crowd of 19,204 at Amalie Arena and evening the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final series at two games each heading into Sunday's Game 5. But as ugly as the score looked, Tampa Bay believed it deserved a better fate, focusing on its 39 shots — most thwarted in a brilliant bounce-back performance by Lundqvist — and a dominating second period. l "I thought for 45 minutes we did everything but put the puck in the net," coach Jon Cooper said. "People are going to wake up in the morning and look at the box score and say, 'Oh, wow, Tampa got waxed.' But if you were in the building, you probably didn't see it that way."...

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) gets the puck off while going airborne against New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein (8) during first period action of game four of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday evening (5/22/15).
  12. Lightning's Yzerman finalist for GM of year (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning's Steve Yzerman is one of three finalists for general manager of the year, the league announced Friday.

    Yzerman, 50, joins the Rangers' Glen Sather and the Ducks' Bob Murray as finalists. Yzerman, in his sixth year with Tampa Bay, also was a finalist in 2010-11, the last time the team reached the Eastern Conference final.

    The Lightning set a franchise record for wins (50) and points (108) this season, buoyed by some key moves Yzerman made during the summer....

    The Lightning’s Steve Yzerman is a finalist for NHL general manager of the year for a second time. The first was 2011.
  13. Lightning: Rays wear Lightning T's; Tony Dungy, Community Hero

    Lightning Strikes

    Ray-sing the Cup

    The Rays continued their support of the Lightning's playoff run, with 2B Tim Beckham (left) and others wearing Lightning T-shirts during batting practice Friday. 3B Evan Longoria said on Twitter: "Gotta be awesome putting this shirt on and seeing that Stanley Cup logo. #GoBolts #BringStanleyHome."

    Guest of honor

    Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy (left) was honored as the Lightning's Community Hero at Friday's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against the Rangers, with a special introduction by Bucs Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks. Dungy received $50,000 for his selected charities....

    Tony Dungy, former Tampa Bay Bucs coach, greets with well wishers before the Tampa Bay Lightning take to the ice against the New York Rangers for game four of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday evening (5/22/15). Dungy will be honored during the game as the Lightning Community Hero.
  14. Steve Yzerman finalist for GM of the Year


    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is one of three finalists for General Manager of the Year, the league announced Friday.

    Yzerman, 50, joins the Rangers Glen Sather and the Ducks’ Bob Murray. Yzerman in his sixth year with Tampa Bay, was also a finalist in 2010-11, the last time the Lightning reached the Eastern Conference Final. This season, the Lightning set franchise record for wins (50) and points (108)....

  15. With Matt Carle out, Mark Barberio to make playoff debut


    At the end of Friday's morning skate, associate Rick Bowness approached defenseman Mark Barberio to give him the news: he'll make his playoff debut tonight in Game 4.

    With defenseman Matt Carle (undisclosed) out, Barberio could be the sixth or seventh defenseman.

    "He asked me if I was ready to go," Barberio said. "(Heck) yeah!"

    Barberio, 25, hadn't played since the regular season finale April 11 against Boston. And while he's had experience of going long stretches without games - he played in just 52 this season - watching the first few rounds of the playoffs from the press box wasn't easy....

    With defenseman Matt Carle (undisclosed) out, Mark Barberio (8) could be the sixth or seventh defenseman.