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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 rallies, beats Isles in OT to take series lead

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — The night began with Lightning forward Brian Boyle getting bumped at mid-ice — during warmups — by the Islanders' Travis Hamonic, the two staring each other down and jawing.

    That set the tone for a thrilling Game 3 filled with thunderous hits — 78 in total — and countless plot twists.

    But, fittingly, in the end, it was Boyle delivering the final blow, a controversial hit and then the winning goal three minutes into overtime, lifting the Lightning to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory. It silenced the sellout crowd at Barclays Center, giving Tampa Bay a 2-1 series lead in this Eastern Conference semifinal....

    Lightning defenseman Matt Taormina takes a hit from Islanders left wing Matt Martin during the first period.
  2. Lightning's Cooper defends Boyle's crucial hit in Game 3 win

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — The hit by Islanders D Thomas Hickey on RW Jonathan Drouin was definitely the biggest of Tuesday's Game 1, temporarily knocking the 21-year-old wing out of the game.

    "Thunderous," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

    But it was C Brian Boyle's hit on Hickey in overtime that was the most controversial, a livid Islanders coach Jack Capuano expecting a suspension for the veteran Lightning center....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Boyle (11) takes the puck off the boards and shoots to score a goal against the New York Islanders during the overtime period of Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in New York. The Lightning won 5-4. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) NYJJ132
  3. Anton Stralman joins Lightning optional skate


    Defenseman Anton Stralman took part in the Lightning's optional morning skate Tuesday in a regular-colored jersey, his first skate with the team since fracturing his left leg Mar. 25.

    But not so fast, Stralman still appears a little ways away from returning. This was an optional skate, so even J.T. Brown (upper body), who didn't use a full stick, participated, as did Matt Carle (undisclosed)....

    Until Anton Stralman practices with the full team and does contract drills, it's hard to envision him playing in his first game in more than a month.
  4. Erik Condra nears Lightning return

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — RW Erik Condra was back at practice Monday — and participating in line rushes — with the possibility he could play in tonight's Game 3 against the Islanders.

    It was very encouraging for the Lightning considering how bad it looked when Condra's head slammed into the boards after a hit by Islanders' Casey Cizikas in the first period of Wednesday's Game 1. Condra was dazed as he was helped off the ice, saying while he didn't know if he lost consciousness, he was "out of it" for a little....

    Lightning right wing Erik Condra, being helped off after a hit in Game 1, might return tonight.
  5. Erik Condra back on ice after 'scary' hit into boards


    Lightning wing Erik Condra was back at practice Monday - and in line rushes - with the possibility he could play in Tuesday's Game 3. 

    It was a very encouraging sight considering how bad it looked when Condra hit his head into the boards on a hit by Islanders' Casey Cizikas in Game 1. Condra was dazed, saying while he didn't know if he lost consciousness, he was "out of it" for a little bit. ...

    Erik Condra said he was in a "fog" briefly but 10 minutes after getting into the locker room he was better and "passing tests."
  6. Trade holdout was wakeup call for Lightning's Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes


    Watching Jonathan Drouin dazzle during this postseason, it's hard to believe he is the same player who walked away from the Lightning organization four months ago, potentially for good.

    Yet here is the touted 21-year-old wing, dangling the puck as if it's attached to his stick blade, dizzying the Islanders in their second-round series with his playmaking ability.

    "I said to somebody watching the last game, 'It looks like he's playing against the Moncton Wildcats,' " quipped Bobby Smith, a former general manager and owner of Drouin's junior team, the Halifax Mooseheads. "Not surprising me."...

    Jonathan Drouin, getting glove taps for his goal against the Islanders, received support from teammates during his holdout and after he returned.
  7. Slate Koekkoek 'passes test' in Lightning playoff debut (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — D Slater Koekkoek said he was told there was a good chance he would make his Stanley Cup playoff debut for the Lightning in Saturday's Game 2 against the Islanders.

    But after finding out for sure after warmups, Koekkoek knew nothing could prepare him for the experience.

    "It was awesome," Koekkoek said. "When you skated out the first time with those blue (lights), I was (really) wide-eyed, to say the least."...

    HAPPY TIMES: Jonathan Drouin, center, kicks off cheers with his first-period goal for a 2-1 Lightning lead. Tampa Bay has scored six of the series’ past eight goals over the past four periods.
  8. Lightning evens series with Islanders at 1 with Game 2 win (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — That the Lightning came through with a potentially series-saving 4-1 victory in Game 2 against the Islanders on Saturday was encouraging enough.

    "This is one we absolutely needed," coach Jon Cooper said.

    But it was how Tampa Bay evened its best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal that might be telling as everything shifts to New York for Tuesday's Game 3. The Lightning, which was too relaxed early in a Game 1 loss, controlled play, outshooting the Islanders 25-5 in the second half of the game. Tampa Bay has scored six of the series' past eight goals over the past four periods, in which they've had a 48-25 shot advantage. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) beats New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) to score a goal for a 1-0 lead in the first period of game two in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, April 30, 2016.
  9. Despite loss, Lightning's Ben Bishop sticks with his game plan

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — When G Ben Bishop was with the Blues about eight years ago, he said a sports psychologist delivered a speech during training camp that has stuck with him, and it could play a role in his play in today's Game 2 against the Islanders.

    Bishop said the psychologist talked about the law of averages and how there will be good games and bad games, but if you play and prepare the same way, you'll be successful more times than not....

    Goalie Ben Bishop, pulled in the Game 1 loss to the Islanders, believes if he always prepares and plays the same way, wins will outnumber losses.
  10. Anton Stralman skates, 'not near ready'


    Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman made an appearance Friday, skating in full gear on his own before the team's practice at the Ice Sports Forum.

    But Stralman, five weeks into his recovery from a fractured left leg, isn't close to returning to the lineup.

    "Not near ready yet," coach Jon Cooper said.

    Cooper had said the Lightning was hopeful to get Stralman back at some point during this series. But until Stralman starts skating with the team, his return is not imminent. RW J.T. Brown (upper body) also doesn't appear anywhere close to a return....

    Anton Stralman, center, five weeks into his recovery from a fractured left leg, isn't close to returning to the lineup.
  11. Islanders Game 1 victory gets Lightning's attention

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Plenty went wrong for the Lightning in Wednesday's 5-3 loss in Game 1 to the Islanders, from goalie Ben Bishop having a rare off night to several defensive lapses.

    Then there was this:

    "We weren't ready from the start," wing Alex Killorn said. "We were feeling pretty good about ourselves after that Detroit series. We came in a little too relaxed."

    Any relaxation is gone heading into an almost must-win Game 2 of the second-round playoff series Saturday at Amalie Arena, a game coach Jon Cooper dubbed "paramount." But Tampa Bay has been in this position before. It has lost the first game in four of the six playoff series it has played the past two seasons. It won two of the three completed series in which it lost Game 1, and it is 5-0 in Game 2s the past two playoffs....

    The Lightning thought Game 1 would be easy, says Brian Boyle, right, exiting postgame with Ryan Callahan.
  12. Lightning's Steven Stamkos picks up skating pace

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Watching C Steven Stamkos zip around the ice at Thursday's practice, it was hard to tell anything is wrong.

    Though Stamkos, recovering from April 4 surgery to fix a blood clot in his collarbone area, was still in a red noncontact jersey, his skating seemed the same. On the ice with teammates for the third consecutive day, Stamkos participated in some drills and conditioning, and even took his trademark one-timers, albeit with not quite as much force....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) leaves Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) on the ice as he breaks towards the net during first period at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/28/16).
  13. Erik Condra 'much better' after big hit Thursday


    It certainly didn't look good Wednesday when wing Erik Condra took a nasty fall into the boards early in the first period, thanks to a hit by the Islanders' Casey Cizikas.

    Condra looked dazed, having to get helped off by a trainer and two teammates, and never returned in a 5-3 Game 1 loss to New York.

    But coach Jon Cooper seemed encouraged with how Condra is feeling Thursday, even if it's questionable whether the wing can skate the next few days....

    Erik Condra looked dazed, having to get helped off by a trainer and two teammates, and never returned in a 5-3 Game 1 loss to New York.
  14. Lightning's Bishop a finalist for Vezina Trophy

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning's Ben Bishop was named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league's top goaltender.

    The announcement, which came before Wednesday's Game 1 against the Islanders, wasn't a surprise, considering Bishop (35-21-4) led the NHL with a 2.06 goals-against average during the regular season, his .926 save percentage second. The other finalists are the Capitals' Braden Holtby and the Kings' Jonathan Quick, with the winner announced at the NHL awards in Las Vegas on June 22....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) makes a save with the puck in the air during first period action against the Detroit Red Wings in game one of the Stanley Cup playoffs at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Wednesday (04/13/16). DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  15. Bishop pulled as Lightning loses to Islanders in Game 1 (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ben Bishop began Wednesday night being named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL's top goaltender.

    "He's got us to this point," center Brian Boyle said.

    But this wasn't Bishop's finest hour, the Lightning All-Star goaltender pulled midway through a 5-3 loss to the Islanders in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.

    Not many, especially the stunned sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena, have seen this often, Bishop — the team's often bulletproof backbone — giving up four goals in 13 shots of a big game, skating to the bench with 11 minutes to go in the second period....

    Andrei Vasilevskiy heads onto the ice to replace Ben Bishop in goal during the second period.