Robitaille has proven he's more than just 'Lucky'

They call him "Lucky," but nothing could be further from the truth.

Because the simple fact is, Luc Robitaille is good. He's skilled, hard-working, gritty when he needs to be, smart in a quiet sort of way and determined as hell to get over every obstacle that life seems to set in his way.

The number of shots per game the Blues are taking more than their opponents -- second best in the NHL. St. Louis is averaging 30.2 shots to the opposition's 22.4.

Infirmary report
Peter Forsberg's ankle surgery might be more than just a single injury for the Avalanche. Colorado has been running on fumes lately and needed the huge mental push that Forsberg's expected return was going to bring. Now, the Avalanche have to deal with the disappointment as well as with injuries to Alex Tanguay (ankle), Stephane Yelle (knee), Radim Vrbata (ribs), Brad Larsen (ribs), Dan Hinote (foot) and Adam Foote (knee). This is a team that has a fragile physical state. The question is whether the Forsberg situation will cause a fragile mental state. The first test will come Saturday when the Avalanche travel to Edmonton in a battle for first place in the Northwest Division.

How else can you explain the fact he's about to become the highest scoring left winger in the history of the NHL? That's as in "ever." More goals than Bobby Hull or Johnny Bucyk or Steve Shutt -- Hall-of-Famers all of them. Oh sure, when Robitaille breaks Hull's record of 610 (the two are tied heading into Saturday's Red Wings' game against the Stars in Detroit on ABC), there will be an asterisk. Robert Marvin Hull did, after all, score an additional 303 goals with Winnipeg in the World Hockey Association. But to raise that as some reason to downgrade Robitaille's accomplishments is really missing the point.

Luc Robitaille is going to be mentioned in the same breath as the Golden Jet. Luc Robitaille, he of the cement feet. Luc Robitaille, taken 171st in the 1984 draft. Luc Robitaille, given up for dead last summer by the Los Angeles Kings, the same team that will eventually retire his No. 20. That Luc Robitaille is forging his own Hall-of-Fame career and showing the entire league that he's far from done.

He celebrates birthday No. 36 on Feb. 17. He has 20 goals in 44 games. That's on pace for 37 goals in an 82-game season. So what's the surprise? He had 37 last year ... 36 the year before ... 39 the year before that. He is a scoring machine. Didn't we already know that?

Apparently, Robitaille has had to prove it to us once again. After an amazing run as Wayne Gretzky's sidekick, Robitaille was traded out of Los Angeles (his home away from home, the only place he's ever seemed comfortable). After short -- and some would say unsuccessful stints in Pittsburgh and New York -- Robitaille made his way back to the Kings. It seemed the perfect fit.

Sure, he'll be forever remembered for his scene-stealing work as a Penguin in the cinematic Tour de Force "Sudden Death," but c'mon, the guy is as L.A. as it gets. And that's why a number of people predicted failure for Robitaille in Detroit. Too old, too slow, too needy of big minutes to make a big enough impact. Too West Coast for the Midwest, you might say. Take Luc out of the sunshine and you've got one unproductive dude, Dude.

After all, he played almost 19 minutes a game for the Kings last season. How would he make it on 14 minutes with the Red Wings?

He has, somehow. He has made it, and then some. He has made it by earning the respect of Scotty Bowman, by earning the respect of a Hall-of-Fame-bound roster, by earning the respect of some hard-nosed fans in Detroit. Brett Hull said they aren't the only ones impressed with Robitaille.

"I think it's fantastic," Hull said. "And I can tell you another guy who thinks it's fantastic, my father."

Bobby Hull and Luc Robitaille, bonded for life because of their ability to get the job done. "Lucky?" Puh-lease. Luc Robitaille has had to earn it every step of the way.

Central Division

  • The Blackhawks are maybe just a little too in love with themselves right now. Sure, they're playing better than anyone expected, but do you really think it's smart to keep free-agent-to-be Tony Amonte past the March trade deadline? With Detroit seemingly uncatchable, Chicago's best scenario is the fourth seed in the West and a probable first or second-round exit. Amonte can bring something decent in a trade and GM Mike Smith -- who said last week that the more Chicago wins, the less the chance he would trade Amonte -- would be cheating his team if he lost Amonte in the summer for nothing just to get a few extra wins this season.

  • Nobody expected Uwe Krupp to do much this year, but the Red Wings defenseman had shoulder surgery last week and is out for the next three months. Since signing a four-year, $16.4 million contract four years ago, Krupp has played 24 games for Detroit.

  • The Predators were awarded the 2003 NHL draft on Friday. It's a nice coup for a town that has done a good job of stirring up hockey interest. With all of the new arenas in the NHL, the battle to earn All-Star Games and drafts has been intense.

  • Chemistry is such a strange thing in the NHL. Just when critics in St. Louis said Doug Weight and Scott Young had none, the two clicked and Young scored six goals in six games. However, Young now is out for about a month following surgery on his retina. Cory Stillman will move onto Weight's line. How they develop chemistry could determine how the Blues fare in the upcoming month.

  • Columbus GM Doug MacLean has GMs kicking the tires and seeing who's available. But right now, nobody's making an offer. Among the most desirable talents the Blue Jackets possess are defenseman Lyle Odelein and goalie Ron Tugnutt.

    Northwest Division

  • The Wild could be sending defenseman Brad Bombardir back to the injured list for a while. Bombardir has been trying to play on an ankle he fractured earlier in the season, but has experienced plenty of pain. He's not expected to play Friday or Sunday and the Wild takes a five-game road trip after that.

  • Kelly Fairchild scored his first NHL goal in Colorado's 7-3 win over Chicago on Wednesday. Fairchild, 28, was playing in his 25th NHL game, his first for the Avalanche.

  • Since coming back from an injury situation in Atlanta and getting traded to the Flames, defenseman Petr Buzek is averaging 17 minutes of ice time per game for Calgary.

  • The Oilers welcomed Tom Poti (broken finger) and Daniel Cleary (knee surgery) back to the lineup this week. Poti had missed seven games and Cleary 14.

  • The Canucks lead the NHL in bench minors this season with 22 minutes. The majority of those are illegal substitution penalties, but Canucks coach Marc Crawford bristled when the subject was brought up last week. "It's happened a couple of times," he responded to reporters. "What's your point?"

    Pacific Division

  • Don't tell Jason Allison that fans in Boston are upset with penny-pinching management. The former Bruins captain was booed heartily when he returned Thursday to play the Bruins. The Kings took a 5-0 loss, but were on a 10-3-2 run before then and are 15-13-6-1 since acquiring Allison. L.A. swept the three New York area teams last week, the first time in 32 years a team has been able to do that in one stretch of three games.

  • Mighty Ducks winger Paul Kariya had 13 goals through 45 games and has not scored a goal in the past seven games.

  • Daymond Langkow is just one of the reasons the Coyotes are good at home and weak on the road. Of his 26 points this season, 23 have been scored at home.

  • San Jose's Teemu Selanne broke a 10-game goal drought when he scored in a 6-5 win over Phoenix Wednesday. Sharks coach Darryl Sutter reunited Selanne with center Vincent Damphousse.

    Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.