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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. With Victor Hedman out, Lightning's Slater Koekkoek finally gets chance to prove himself

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When it comes to replacing its top defenseman, the Lightning realizes that's not possible.

    "Let's be honest," coach Jon Cooper said. "Nobody in that room is Victor Hedman."

    But with Hedman out three to six weeks with a lower-body injury, it means several other defensemen will have to chip in. Rookie Mikhail Sergachev will step in on the top-power play unit, getting meatier matchups against top lines. Veterans Dan Girardi and Braydon Coburn could see bumps in playing time. Anton Stralman is now the No. 1 defenseman....

  2. Lightning Strikes podcast: How Tampa Bay plans to replace Victor Hedman

    Lightning Strikes

    In our Lightning Strikes! podcast, Joe Smith breaks down the Victor Hedman injury and why, while he's out 3-6 weeks, it could be a whole lot worse.

    Joe and sports columnist Tom Jones discuss how the team plans to replace its All-Star defenseman, and how the team responds could go a long way in determining if Tampa Bay bolsters its blueline at the Feb. 26 trade deadline....

  3. Lightning hosting an outdoor game is a matter of when, not if

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Two weeks from today, this city will host its first special NHL event in nearly two decades with the All-Star Game at Amalie Arena. The last All-Star Game in Tampa was 1999.

    But it sounds like the city won't have to wait nearly as long for its next major hockey event.

    Tampa is a strong candidate to host an outdoor game at Raymond James Stadium, with the Lightning and the league believing it's a matter of when, not if, that will happen. ...

  4. Lightning's Victor Hedman out 3-6 weeks with lower-body injury

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning feared the worst with Victor Hedman's lower-body injury, hoping and praying the franchise defenseman wouldn't be out long term.

    So the team — and its fans — breathed a collective sigh of relief Friday when they found out Hedman is expected to be sidelined three to six weeks after being hurt Thursday against the Flames.

    This could have been much, much worse....

  5. Victor Hedman hurt vs. Flames; more to be known Friday

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Everything has gone so smoothly for the Lightning this season.

    It has the league's best record. It boasts the league's most All-Stars (four).

    You thought its biggest obstacle in the second half of the season would be complacency.

    Then came Thursday. The Lightning's 5-1 loss to the Flames was meaningless compared to the sobering sight of All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman having to be helped into the dressing room early in the second period....

  6. Joe Smith's takeaways from Thursday's Lightning-Flames game

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning FINALLY got a power play. After setting a franchise record with back-to-back games without a power-play opportunity, Tampa Bay went on the man advantage 1:31 into the second period against the Flames, ending a streak of 142 minutes, 4 seconds without a power play.

    Brayden Point isn't an All-Star this season, but he will be one in the future. Point's goal in the second period was his 17th this season and matched his point total of last season (40). The second-year pro plays like a veteran and is earning a ton of respect around the league....

  7. Lightning journal: Nikita Kucherov says All-Star recognition is 'huge'

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov got a taste of the All-Star experience last season in Los Angeles, his first appearance in the game.

    So when selected for this year's game in Tampa on Jan. 28, Kucherov was naturally pumped. He entered Thursday's game against the Flames tied for the league lead with 27 goals.

    "It's definitely huge for me, being able to represent my team and be around those guys from Russia," said Kucherov, referencing the other All-Stars from his country, a group that this season includes the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin. "It's something that I will never forget....

  8. Notable names and snubs on the NHL All-Star Game roster

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning got pretty much every player it thought it would on the All-Star Game roster, released Wednesday.

    One former Lightning forward might have been one of the biggest snubs: Vegas' Jonathan Marchessault.

    Marchessault leads the expansion Golden Knights in scoring with 40 points (16 goals). But he and linemate William Karlsson (22 goals) were left off the Pacific Division roster. Two Golden Knights did make it: F James Neal (20 points) and G Marc-Andre Fleury....

  9. Victor Hedman selection gives Lightning four NHL All-Stars

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman hoped he'd get named Wednesday to his second NHL All-Star Game, especially because it's in Tampa on Jan. 27.

    But with an unfavorable roster format, and three Lightning teammates already locks for the 10-member Atlantic Division team, Hedman knew he was on the bubble.

    "I wasn't really having high expectations," Hedman said. "There's a lot of guys that are really deserving on our team."...

  10. Sizing up the Lightning at the midway point

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA -— As Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill was conducting his post-game press conference Sunday, his good buddy knocked on the glass window of the room.

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper smiled, and waved goodbye on his way out of town after another Tampa Bay victory.

    "You can do that when you're in first place," Blashill said.

    The Lightning (30-9-3) has left the rest of the Atlantic Division in its wake, reaching the season's midpoint with a 10-point lead over second-place Boston. Tampa Bay also has an eight-point cushion over Washington for the top team in the Eastern Conference....

  11. Lightning ends road trip with a win, and a Dan Girardi scare

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — It was a strange, scary scene Sunday night.

    Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi, one of the league's most fearless shot blockers, lay face-first on the ice at Little Caesar's Arena early in the second period. The building was silent, having just witnessed Girardi take a rocket slap shot from the Red Wings' Martin Frk off the back of his neck. Girardi immediately tossed his stick and gloves, crumpling to the ice, trainers from both teams coming to his aid. Teammates Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman knelt by his side before helping him skate off into the room. ...

  12. Lightning journal: Louis Domingue makes debut in goal

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — G Andrei Vasilevskiy got a rare night off Sunday, with backup Louis Domingue making his Lightning debut.

    It was a welcomed breather for Vasilevskiy, 23, who has started 34 of the team's first 41 games, putting him on pace for 68.

    Vasilevskiy has handled the workload well, leading the league in wins, goals against average, save percentage and shutouts. But some have wondered whether this pace is too much for Vasilevskiy to his first full season as No. 1....

  13. Joe Smith's takeaways from Lightning-Red Wings

    Lightning Strikes

    Good to see Dan Girardi skate off after a very scary scene when he got hit high with a Martin Fryk slap shot in the second period Sunday. Girardi tossed his gloves and was face-first on the ice for a few minutes, attended to by trainers from both teams. The building was silent, then Girardi skated off to an ovation and was okay.

    The Lightning and Red Wings clearly don't like each other. There seemed to be scrums every few minutes. Brayden Point, whom Steven Stamkos says is the most low-key player he has ever met, got in his second NHL fight. Yanni Gourde got his first Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight)....

  14. Cooper to coach All-Stars

    Sports

    There will likely be several Lightning players at the All-Star Game in Tampa on Jan. 27-28.

    So it's fitting the head coach would go, too.

    Jon Cooper was officially named the Atlantic Division coach on Sunday, joining Washington's Barry Trotz (Metro), Nashville's Peter Laviolette (Central) and Vegas' Gerard Gallant (Pacific) for the 3-on-3 tournament.

    The coach of the team with the highest points percentage (points earned divided by a total possible points) through Jan. 6 will guide the division's All-Star team. ...

  15. Raw feelings from 2017 keep Lightning focused on this year's ultimate prize

    Lightning Strikes

    OTTAWA — Jon Cooper dropped the "E" word Saturday night during his brief post-game press conference. Then he walked off, as if he wanted it to sink in.

    "Entitlement."

    Cooper felt there's some entitlement running through the Lightning, which boasts the league's best record but has dropped back to back games for the first time since mid-November.

    And Tampa Bay hasn't looked good in doing so, with some sloppy and, worse, some "non-commitment" in playing in its own end. ...