Monday, November 20, 2017


Joe Smith, Times staff writer

Joe Smith, Times staff writer

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.

Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates a goal along with center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) and center Steven Stamkos (91) during Saturday's win over the Blue Jackets in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]

Early Lightning awards: Tough call on MVP

TAMPA — It’s still way early, but if the Lightning’s record start continues, there will be a lot of hardware up for grabs. And we’re not just talking about the Stanley Cup. Nikita Kucherov has league MVP written all over him. Andrei...
Published: 11/18/17
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) battles to catch up to the puck the offensive zone against the Dallas Stars during first period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (11/16/17). DIRK SHADD   |   Times

Brayden Point becomes ‘the heartbeat’ of the Lightning

TAMPA — A local TV crew set up shop in front of Brayden Point’s locker stall the other day, waiting for the Lightning forward to be ready.Then, captain Steven Stamkos walked into the room for his scrum. It didn’t take long for the TV crew to...
Published: 11/17/17
DIRK SHADD   |   Times  
Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates their sixth goal of the game scored by Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) as Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop (30) looks on during third period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (11/16/17).

Lightning pummels Stars for fifth straight win

TAMPA — The Lightning welcomed Ben Bishop back with a classy, fitting video tribute in Thursday’s first period. The sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena gave Bishop, the greatest goalie in franchise history, a standing ovation. It was an...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Thursday’s Lightning-Stars game

There was a classy, fitting video tribute to former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop in the first period. Think of all the moments in his five seasons in Tampa Bay. It had to be emotional for Bishop, who calls Tampa his second home. He touched his heart...
Published: 11/16/17
Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop reaches out to glove a shot from the New York Islanders Friday in Dallas. [AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez]

Lightning Strikes podcast: Ben Bishop vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

In our latest Lightning Strikes! podcast, Joe Smith and Tom Jones discuss Ben Bishop’s return to Tampa, his legacy with the Lightning, and...
Published: 11/15/17
Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Connor (81) misses a penalty shot against Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop (30)  earlier this month in Winnipeg, Manitoba. [John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP]

The net that used to belong to Ben Bishop is in good hands with Andrei Vasilevskiy

TAMPA — When Andrei Vasilevskiy stares across the Amalie Arena ice tonight, he’ll see his mentor, his "big brother."Vasilevskiy, 23, will also see a little bit of himself. Ben Bishop, 30, the greatest goalie in franchise history, took...
Published: 11/15/17
DIRK SHADD   |   Times  
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates as he scores beating Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) for the first and only goal in the shoot out as the Lightning beat the Blue Jackets with a final score of 5 to 4 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (11/04/17).

Lightning emphatically answers power-play question

TAMPA — There were some questions going into the season what the Lightning would do to replace Jonathan Drouin on its potent power play.Sure, Tampa Bay was getting back a healthy Steven Stamkos. But Drouin, dealt to Montreal in June, was the...
Published: 11/14/17
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) battles along the glass against  the Columbus Blue and left wing Matt Calvert (11) during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (11/04/17). Coming in to help is Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) (in back on left). DIRK SHADD   |   Times

Lightning: The secret’s out. Vladislav Namestnikov is on fire

TAMPA — The Russian wing darted into the slot during the third period of the Lightning’s win Thursday in L.A.He instinctively ripped a rebound off the top-right corner crossbar into the net. Bar down. It was a goal scorer’s goal."It...
Published: 11/13/17
Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Dave Andreychuk speaks to reporters after a news conference in Toronto, Friday. [Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP]

Lightning podcast: Dave Mishkin on Dave Andreychuk’s Hall of Fame induction

In this episode of his Lightning Strikes! podcast, Joe Smith and long-time Lightning radio voice Dave Mishkin discuss Dave Andreychuk’s...
Published: 11/13/17
Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson, center, reacts as Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24), left, celebrates a goal in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. Tampa Bay won 2-1.

For the first time in 23 years, Lightning sweep a West Coast road trip

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Victor Hedman recalls many long nights over the years during the notoriously challenging California road trip."Some really tough nights," he said.
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/13/17