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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 needs big win total in final 10 games for playoff hope

    Lightning Strikes

    BOSTON — When Lightning coach Jon Cooper was asked if Tuesday's loss to the Coyotes was one of the most frustrating of the season, his answer was telling.

    "A lot of frustrating games this year," Cooper said. "This ranks up there, though."

    That there have been so many from which to choose is damning, the reason the Lightning will likely miss the playoffs. Sure, Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Arizona was inexcusable. If, in an absolute must-win game, you can't beat the second-worst team in the league at home, maybe you don't deserve to be in the postseason....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) are stunned as the coyotes skate away with the go-ahead goal (4-3), while Arizona Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski (33) celebrates, foreground, during the third period of Tuesday's (3/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Arizona Coyotes at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  2. It's desperation time as Lightning chases a playoff berth

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    Any margin for error the Lightning had left in its playoff fight was wiped away with back-to-back losses.

    Tampa Bay still has a shot, two points out of the final wild-card spot in the East behind Toronto, which has a game in hand. But with just 11 games to go, the Lightning has its work cut out for it, including a challenging schedule.

    The first step is not getting deflated by its first losing streak since Jan. 31-Feb. 2....

    “We can’t let this break us,” defenseman Victor Hedman, left, with MVP candidate Nikita Kucherov, says of the team’s skid.
  3. In must-win game, Lightning falls to Capitals (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning has made a remarkable run with an injury-depleted lineup, which features six rookies.

    Instead of captain Steven Stamkos or Tyler Johnson, there are youngsters such as Yanni Gourde and Byron Froese. Heck, defenseman Luke Witkowski is filling in as a fourth-line wing.

    That has worked for a while thanks to grit and guts, heroics by Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Byron Froese (78) eludes Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) behind the Capitals' net during the first period of Saturday's (3/18/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Lightning journal: Brett Connolly thriving with Capitals after leaving Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The first time Capitals coach Barry Trotz spoke with wing Brett Connolly, the former Lightning No. 6 overall pick admitted that he probably got put in the NHL too soon.

    Connolly played 68 games with the Lightning in 2011-12 season as a 19-year-old straight out of junior. He then bounced back and forth from the AHL the next few years before getting dealt by Tampa Bay in 2015. The Capitals were his third team in three years....

    The Capitals’ Brett Connolly went into Saturday’s game against his former team with a career-high 15 goals in 56 games.
  5. Lightning won't rush back Stamkos, no matter how needy

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The sight of Steven Stamkos participating in a full team practice Friday was as tantalizing for teammates as it was for Lightning fans.

    "Certain things he does on the ice, you can tell this team is going to be a lot better with him," wing Alex Killorn said. "We're hoping to get him back as soon as possible."

    The million-dollar question is when? There's no question the Lightning badly needs Stamkos as it fights for its playoff lives with 11 games to go. There's a glaring hole at center after two were dealt at the deadline and with three currently injured....

    Facebook picture of Joe Smith. (John Pendygraft | TIMES)
  6. Ondrej Palat, Jake Dotchin good to go for tonight

    Blog

    The Lightning finally got some good news on the injury front Saturday, with both wing Ondrej Palat and defenseman Jake Dotchin available tonight against the Capitals.

    Palat and Dotchin missed Friday's practice and were questionable, but both participated in today's morning skate.

    However, Vladislav Namestnikov (who skated in red jersey), Cedric Paquette and Tyler Johnson are all out. And coach Jon Cooper said he doesn't have an idea on when they'll be back....

  7. Lightning's Steven Stamkos on injury progress: Some positives but nothing imminent on return

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There have been some dark days for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos during his four-month recovery from right knee surgery.

    There were times Stamkos wondered if he ever would get better.

    "This has been the toughest by far," he said.

    That's saying something for Stamkos, 26, a superstar who has come back from a broken leg and blood clot in the past three years. But on Friday, there was a glimmer of hope, Stamkos participating in his first full team practice since a mid-November injury cut short what was the best hockey of his life. ...

    Steven Stamkos, celebrating a goal in October, was injured Nov. 15. When might he return? ‘When it’s 100 percent, I’ll be back.”
  8. Steven Stamkos on first full Lightning team practice since surgery: 'It was a start'

    Blog

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos took another step towards his return Friday, encouraged with how he felt after his first full team practice since mid-November knee surgery.

    But coach Jon Cooper made it clear that by no means is Stamkos' return imminent. And Stamkos admitted he wasn't sure if he'll be back by the end of the regular season, which has 12 games left.

    This week marks the four month mark in the expected 4-6 month recovery, but Stamkos said the four-month expectation was out of the window right away. It's somewhere in the middle....

  9. Lightning suffers ugly, costly loss to Maple Leafs (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Remember in November when Brian Boyle said he'd love to face his Lightning team because it was "too easy" to play against in its own zone?

    On Thursday, Boyle got his wish.

    The Lightning was soft and sloppy in front of its net in getting thumped 5-0 by Toronto, snapping a four-game winning streak. Tampa Bay picked a bad time for a clunker, allowing the Maple Leafs to pull one point ahead for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference thanks to the Islanders' loss to the Jets....

    Matt Martin gets a hug from former Lightning star Brian Boyle after putting the Maple Leafs up 3-0 as the puck bounces back out of the net past Andrei Vasilevskiy in the second period.
  10. Lightning journal: Vasilevskiy pulled, teammates quick to take blame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the only area of the ice his team didn't defend Thursday against the Maple Leafs was the 10-by-10 area in front of the net.

    The result was a short night for G Andrei Vasilevskiy, who allowed four goals in the 5-0 loss at Amalie Arena, including three in the second period when he was pulled 6:14 in.

    "It looks bad for Vasilevskiy," Cooper said, "but there's not much you can do when you got guys tapping them in."...

    DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  11. Morgan Rielly not surprised by Brayden Point's emergence

    Blog

    There are many that are surprised that Lightning rookie Brayden Point made the team out of camp, much less smoothly stepping in as No. 1 center in a playoff push.

    But Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly isn't one of them.

    Rielly, who played with Point in juniors with the Moose Jaw Warriors, always felt the 5-foot-10, 166-pound center had the drive and skills to succeed in the NHL.

    "I remember watching him at world juniors when I was in Toronto and telling the guys how good he was," Rielly told the Times. "He's always been an underdog a little bit because of his size, but I think he's coming into his own, having an outstanding year and I'm really happy for him."...

    Brayden Point has been arguably the Lightning's most consistent forward this season.
  12. Lightning prepare for Leafs showdown: 'It's Game 7 again'

    Blog

    There's no question tonight's Lightning game with the Maple Leafs has plenty of sizzle, and a lot at stake.

    Brian Boyle's likely emotional return to Tampa Bay is a storyline, but even he says to keep in perspective how big this game is for the playoff race. The Lightning is tied with the Islanders for the final wild card spot, Toronto one point behind and a game in hand.

    "It's huge, it's Game 7 again," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "All the games will be Game 7 attitude for us. We know it'll be a packed building, fans are going to be loud. Really looking forward to it."...

    "It's huge, it's Game 7 again," defenseman Victor Hedman said of tonight's game.
  13. From friend to foe: Brian Boyle all in with Maple Leafs

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Center Brian Boyle knows there will naturally be some emotions surfacing during warmups Thursday night, when he faces his former Lightning teammates for the first time since a trade to Toronto two weeks ago.

    There are some great friendships and memories he built in his two-plus seasons in Tampa Bay, including back-to-back playoff runs.

    But when the puck drops there will also be motivation. The Lightning shipped Boyle to its Atlantic Division rival on Feb. 27 for prospect Byron Froese and a second-round pick. Tampa Bay is 6-1-1 since the deadline, pulling into a tie for the final wild-card spot with the Islanders, who hold the tiebreaker of regulation/OT wins....

    TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 07:  Luke Glendening #41 of the Detroit Red Wings battles for the puck with Matt Martin #15 and Brian Boyle #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Air Canada Centre on March 7, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) 672874673
  14. Brian Boyle prepares to face former Lightning teammates

    Blog

    Veteran center Brian Boyle knows there will naturally be some emotions popping up during warmups Thursday night, when he faces his former Lightning teammates for the first time since a deadline deal to Toronto.

    There are some great friendships and memories he built in his two-plus seasons in Tampa Bay, including back-to-back playoff runs. A reunion dinner tonight could be in the cards....

    "Obviously they got rid of me, they traded me," Brian Boyle said., "I guess they didn't need me that much.''
  15. Lightning wins at Ottawa in overtime (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    OTTAWA — Victor Hedman said he knew, one way or another, Ondrej Palat would find him on his overtime winning goal Tuesday night.

    All a streaking Hedman had to do on a 2-on-1 was stick out his stick to convert a perfect feed and seal a 2-1 victory over the Senators at Canadian Tire Center.

    "Probably the easiest goal of the year for me," Hedman said.

    That's the kind of remarkable roll the Lightning has been on, a 12-2-3 stretch pulling it into a tie with the Islanders for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. New York has the tiebreaker with more regulation wins, and the Maple Leafs, which the Lightning hosts Thursday, is just one point behind....

    The Senators’ Alexandre Burrows falls over Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during a puck battle in the third period.