Make us your home page

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. Bishop likely to play Games 3 and 4


    Lightning coach Jon Cooper said his team hopes to go "for the jugular" tonight against the Canadiens, already holding a 2-0 series lead.

    And, depending on how the game goes, it wouldn't be surprising to see goalie Ben Bishop start both tonight and Wednesday's Game 4; the other option is touted rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who  hasn't played in a game since late March. It would be the first time this season Bishop has played in back to back games, but Cooper doesn't seem to have an issue with it, pointing out the goaltender played on three straight nights in the minors and back-to-back in college....

    Ben Bishop is 6-3 with a 1.71 goals against average, having won four straight starts, including a shutout in Game 7 against Detroit.
  2. Paquette doesn't want to rush back


    Lightning center Cedric Paquette said while he continues to improve from an undisclosed injury that forced him out midway through Sunday's game, he doesn't want to rush back and make it worse.

    So Paquette still considers himself a "game-time decision" for tonight's Game 3 against the Candiens.

    Paquette suffered the injury late in the first period Sunday, then tried to play through it in the second before leaving for good. Having practiced in back-to-back days, Paquette has felt better, but is still sore....

    Lightning center Cedric Paquette considers himself a "game-time decision" for tonight's Game 3 against the Canadiens.
  3. Braydon Coburn could help drive Lightning extra mile

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There's a street named after Braydon Coburn in his tiny hometown of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan.

    It leads to the Wickenheiser Centre, a new complex with an indoor/outdoor hockey rink, plus a sheet for curling, plenty enough to entertain the tight-knit farming community of around 2,000 people. Coburn's friend Hayley Wickenheiser, whom he labels "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey," is the favorite daughter, but Braydon Coburn Drive has a good ring to it, too....

    Braydon Coburn has quickly endeared himself to his teammates and fans since being acquired from the Flyers at the March trade deadline. [Getty Images]
  4. Stamkos relieved after playoff goal for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — As Steven Stamkos' recent scoring slump extended for what seemed like eternity — at least to him — the Lightning captain didn't panic.

    Sure, it weighed on him, considering the nine-game goal drought (dating to the regular season finale) was his longest since an 11-game stretch as a rookie, Dec. 2-26, 2008. Plus it came in the playoffs, when he was needed the most. Stamkos was asked nearly every day about it, with some speculating he was hurt....

    Lightning center Steven Stamkos is relieved his scoring drought is over. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times] 
  5. Braydon Coburn takes shots for the team

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — D Braydon Coburn said it wasn't easy.

    With Canadiens LW Brandon Prust punching him in the face twice during a first-period scuffle, Coburn showed poise in not swinging back. Prust got a double minor, giving Tampa Bay a four-minute power play.

    "I'm sure he was trying to get me to punch him or something like that to negate his penalty," Coburn said. "You try to stand your ground. It's not fun, but you know what? It's playoffs. Sometimes you have to take a punch."...

    Canadiens wing Brandon Prust runs into Lightning goalie Ben Bishop late in Sunday’s Game 2. The incident sparked Prust’s fight with Tampa Bay’s Braydon Coburn.
  6. Montreal's Prust predictable; Lightning responds predictably (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL — The Lightning wasn't surprised to see Canadiens agitator LW Brandon Prust trip G Ben Bishop behind the net late in Sunday's Game 2.

    "You can see it coming from a mile away," C Steven Stamkos said. "Not the first time (Prust has) done something like that."

    D Braydon Coburn came to Bishop's defense and started a fight with Prust, who got a game misconduct. And it might not be over. Stamkos said, "We may look at that and address it the way we feel we need to."...

    Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, keeping an eye on the puck, was tripped late in Sunday’s game by Montreal’s Brandon Prust but took it in stride.
  7. Lightning routs Montreal to take 2-0 series lead (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL — When Steven Stamkos finally snapped his playoff scoring drought Sunday night, you could tell how much it meant to the Lightning captain by the primal scream he let out in the celebration.

    "It was definitely a release of some things that have been building up," Stamkos said. "It was a relief to see that one go in."

    Stamkos gave the Lightning the lead for good, and its suddenly potent power play did the rest with four goals in a 6-2 victory over the Canadiens that stunned the sellout crowd at the Bell Centre. It gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series heading into Game 3 on Wednesday at Amalie Arena....

    As his team celebrates thanks in large part to four power-play goals, Lightning coach Jon Cooper strides off the ice. “Our power play was hot tonight,” Cooper said.
  8. Cooper: Drouin will play in series


    The fact touted rookie Jonathan Drouin continues to sit during the playoffs remains a hot topic, especially in Canada.

    Even Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman wrote in his column for a French newspaper today that Drouin should be playing.

    But Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, will be a healthy scratch tonight, giving him just one appearance (Game 4 against Detroit) in nine playoff games....

    Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, will be a healthy scratch tonight, giving him just one appearance (Game 4 against Detroit) in nine playoff games.
  9. Bishop having fun in Montreal pressure cooker

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL — G Ben Bishop could have easily caved Friday night.

    Bishop had given up a potentially haunting goal, LW Max Pacioretty's wrist shot popping out of his glove and trickling into the net to tie the Canadiens with the Lightning at 1 with five minutes left in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. The Canadiens' fans mercilessly mocked the Lightning goaltender, chanting "BISH-OP!" and giving him Bronx cheers for every easy save....

    Lightning goalie Ben Bishop makes one of his 43 saves from the ice during the first overtime against the Canadiens on Friday.
  10. Lightning: Two views of East semifinal; a day of rest

    Lightning Strikes

    View from Montreal

    "It's just one game. There's no time for panic."

    Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk, on Montreal's 1-0 series deficit in the Eastern Conference semifinals

    View from Tampa Bay

    "We can really take a stranglehold of this series."

    Lightning defenseman Matt Carle, on Tampa Bay's approach to today's Game 2

    Day of rest...

    TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Ryan Callahan of the Tampa Bay Lightning poses for his official headshot for the 2014-2015 season on September 18, 2014 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
  11. Lightning look to grab "stranglehold" of series


    The Lightning finds itself in an enviable position, winning the first game on the road in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal against the Canadiens, an emotional 2-1 double overtime victory Friday night.

    But Tampa Bay wants more heading into Sunday's Game 2 at the Bell Centre.

    "We can really take a stranglehold on this series," defenseman Matt Carle said. "We have a really good opportunity to go up 2-0 and grab two wins out of their building."...

  12. Lightning tops Canadiens 2-1 in 2OT (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL — The Lightning returned to the "scene of the crime" Friday night, as coach Jon Cooper said.

    Montreal is where Tampa Bay's season died last April, thanks to a stinging sweep handed to the Lightning by the Canadiens. And it appeared the Bell Centre crowd would witness a larceny by Montreal in Game 1 of the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal Friday.

    There was the glove-save-that-wasn't by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, in which the puck fluttered into the net with five minutes left to force overtime. And there was Nikita Kucherov's apparent winner early in the first overtime that, it turns out, was correctly ruled no goal due to the Lightning wing pushing goalie Carey Price's pad into the net....

    Lightning goalie Ben Bishop makes a glove-save against Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec during the second period of Game 1 in Montreal. Tampa Bay’s victory stuns the sellout crowd.
  13. Lightning: Who's the underdog?; very superstitious

    Lightning Strikes

    Gamesmanship of the day

    One day after Montreal coach Michel Therrien labeled the Canadiens the underdogs in their Eastern Conference semifinal, Lightning coach Jon Cooper sent a volley back. "They had 110 points, won the division, have a Vezina candidate, Hart candidate, Norris candidate," Cooper said Friday. "I guess if we had (top goalie, MVP and top defenseman award candidates), I'd say, 'Yeah, he's the underdog.' But we don't have those."...

    TAMPA, FL - APRIL 16: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning readies for the game against the Detroit Red Wings  in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Amalie Arena on April 16, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
  14. Brian Boyle stands tall for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL — Lately it has been hard for Lightning coach Jon Cooper to keep C Brian Boyle off the ice.

    Boyle, 30, a veteran forward signed over the summer with the playoffs in mind, continues to expand his role, including a move up to play on a line with C Valtteri Filppula and Cedric Paquette for Friday's Game 1 against the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals....

    TAMPA, FL - APRIL 18: Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Amalie Arena on April 18, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
  15. Lightning return to "scene of the crime"


    It didn't take Lightning coach Jon Cooper long to address the elephant in the room at the Bell Centre, opening his pre-game press conference with this:

    "Back to the scene of the crime, a year later?" Cooper quipped.

    The Lightning's season ended here stunningly last April, getting swept in the first round by the Canadiens. Tampa Bay hasn't been playing up the revenge card, pointing out how its a much different team than the one that lost last year. Just look at the handful of new players in the lineup, especially goalie Ben Bishop....

    The Lightning comes in confident, and also focused, captain Steven Stamkos said.