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:

Comments (4)

  1. “don’t insult my intelligence by calling them underdogs”?

    I’m not going to go so far as to say that you’re insulting my intelligence, but why is it that all of these articles about how good of a team the Kings are are only coming out now, after they have crushed the 1 and 2 seeds in the west? Where was this article at the end of the regular season when they scraped their way into the playoffs? I mean, you might as well just wait another week or two until they’ve dismantled Phoenix as well, are headed to the stanley cup finals, and are staring at an inferior Caps or NJ team to let us know they aren’t the under dogs.

    Sorry to be so sarcastic, it’s just funny to see the flood of articles written now about how the Kings were underrated and aren’t actually under dogs, etc. when nobody seemed to give them much of a shot when the playoffs started. Despite how well they were playing to finish out the regular season. Despite that they we’re deep down the middle. And despite how strong their defense had played, and how well their vezina caliber goalie had played all season long.

    • Now that you mention it, that’s a fair question. It’s not like one can say they expected the Kings to so quickly dispatch both the 1st and 2nd seeds while being the 8th themselves, considering it’s never been done before.

      That said, I don’t think it’s that anyone ever saw the Kings as underdogs. It’s more that they compared their mixed regular season against the ‘Nucks and Blues and well, the implications where pretty apparent. And then they turned out to be completely irrelevant.

    • In all honesty, in October, I picked the Kings to win the West and lose to Pittsburgh in the Cup Final (and if you find me on facebook, you can find the October “note” to prove it), so I did come in to the season thinking they were the West’s best, and that was before acquiring Jeff Carter to reunite with Mike Richards. Now I just wish I had stuck with that prediction pre-playoffs, which I didn’t.

      Obviously their play in the regular season caused that change of heart for me. But I still wouldn’t say the “underdog” label fits. As I mentioned, they simply underachieved in the regular season, and most people didn’t want to bet on them turning the switch on in April/May.

      • Fair enough. I think a lot of us were picking them to go far this season before the season started (myself included). I haven’t really read much of your stuff before so I apologize if anything I said was way off base. I just happened to latch on to your article as one of many i’ve been reading in the last few days about how good this team “has always been”.

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