Warning: apc_store(): Potential cache slam averted for key 'w3tc_blogs.thescore.com_4_object_69be6f0f58698dc437fd681ecbdd920c' in /opt/blogs/wp-content/plugins/w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Cache/Apc.php on line 41 A Cup of Joe In the Morning – Kings Aren’t An Underdog Story | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com

The Los Angeles Kings are off to the Conference Finals for just the second time in franchise history, and the first time in 19 years. They’ve gotten there this year as the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed, and had to get through the West’s top two teams first.

But don’t you dare call them an “underdog.”

Outside of finishing eighth in the Western Conference, nothing about this team screams underdog.

A true underdog is usually a team low on talent or experience that has overachieved, that is playing above its skill level and that finds a way to get by the higher-seeded favourite without necessarily coming off as the better team. None of those criteria fit this Kings squad.

The Kings are highly talented and deep. They haven’t just gotten by the top seeded Canucks and Blues, they’ve plowed through those two teams in nine mostly dominating performances. They haven’t escaped a couple of series against better teams, they’ve used the two series to prove that they were, in fact, the better team all along.

And they’re certainly not a team overachieving or playing way above their heads. The Kings underachieved in the regular season and are now finally playing up to their capabilities.

Jonathan Quick has been superb, but this isn’t J.S. Giguere dragging an underwhelming 2003 Ducks team past vastly superior teams. On the contrary, Quick is giving a vastly superior team great goaltending.

They’re solid in net, they’re playing well defensively, and they’re loaded down the middle.

Call them an eight-seed if you must (they’re like an eight-seed with an asterisk), because that’s where they found themselves and that’s what they earned (or rather failed to earn in the regular season), but don’t insult my intelligence by calling them “underdogs.”

Other than that, here are your morning links: