In today’s collection of notable NHL morning headlines: Five reasons to watch the Dallas Stars…Kris Versteeg powers Panthers…Steve Montador gets a Gordie Howe hat trick…Avs take “must-win” game over Islanders…Sharks snap Wild five-game win streak…Struggling Ducks hold team meeting…Capitals coach optimistic over Mike Green’s return.


Souray silencing his critics.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika offers up five reasons to watch the Dallas Stars this season, including the performance of defenseman Sheldon Souray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like so many pundits and bloggers, I thought Souray was washed up and wouldn’t be of any help to the Stars. He’s silenced his critics with a performance this season that, if he can maintain it, will make him the favorite to win the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, and maybe a Norris trophy nomination. Seriously, he’s been that good so far, folks, tied for the league lead in plus-minus (+11), and is one of the leading scorers among defensemen this season.

MIAMI HERALD: Kris Versteeg netted a hat trick as the Florida Panthers defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-2, climbing to first in the Southeast Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen how long the Panthers can continue their strong play, but so far, so good for GM Dale Tallon’s off-season overhaul.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” (a goal, an assist, and a fight) as the ‘Hawks downed the floundering Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3.

DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla suggests the Avalanche 4-3 victory over the NY Islanders may have saved the battered credibility of head coach Joe Sacco.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If anything, it may have bought Sacco a bit of a reprieve. They’ll need to string together a few more wins to help Sacco’s credibility.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Patrick Marleau netted two power-play goals as the San Jose Sharks defeated their former teammates Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi, and the remainder of the Minnesota Wild, by a score of 3-1, snapping the Wild’s five-game win streak.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The slumping Anaheim Ducks held a 45-minute team meeting in hopes of addressing the issues which have led to only one win in their last ten games.

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau is optimistic puck-moving defenseman Mike Green will return to the lineup by this weekend.