Stanley Cup predictions are filing in and one fact remains constant: Los Angeles is an underdog yet again.
The writers and experts over at NHL.com have released their selections for the Stanley Cup and once again the Los Angeles Kings aren't receiving much love. Considering LA's extremely impressive march through the playoffs the question must be asked - why are they still being labeled as the underdog?
Over at NHL.com, 16 different experts were asked to pick the Cup winner. The end result had 10 selecting the Devils and just six selecting the Kings. Statistically by seed and now by prediction, the Los Angeles Kings are the underdog - again. This reoccurring theme has followed the Kings through the playoffs. Obviously the role of underdog hasn't bothered them one bit.
The Los Angeles Kings have made quick work of the #1, #2 and #3 seeds in the Western Conference - in that order. They toppled the Canucks in five games, the Blues in four games and the Coyotes in five games. For the bulk of their playoff run the Los Angeles Kings have looked nearly unbeatable, deploying a formidable forecheck that have left even the most organized of opponent looking foolish. They've faced the best the West can offer and have time and time again made them look silly.
On the other side is New Jersey, a team that bested a #3, #5 and #1 seed in order to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. New Jersey beat Florida in seven, Philadelphia in five and New York in six games.
The Kings bested two of the top-3 teams in the 2011-12 regular season (Vancouver, St. Louis). The Kings have barely broken a sweat in the first three rounds, needing just two more games to reach the Cup than what was necessary. Meanwhile, New Jersey struggled against Florida in seven games and most recently bested New York in six games. Their wins were impressive but they lacked the utter dominance the Kings have displayed throughout their postseason run.
Based purely on these numbers, it's a bit puzzling why so many are quick to label LA as the underdog. Yes, the Kings are the #8 seed compared to New Jersey's #6 seed, but the underdog title should end there. The folks over at Yahoo! NHL take a look at why neither team in the Cup Finals should be considered an underdog.
The Yahoo! NHL article makes some solid points. Neither team should be an underdog. The Los Angeles Kings are an underdog by seed and seed alone. Nothing about them has any qualities that one would associate with an underdog. The Kings have rode a miraculous story to get here but they have also played some dominant hockey on the road to get to the Cup as well. It's time to recognize them for it as opposed to consistently pointing to them as just another Cinderella story.
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The only way to say that is purely based on seeding numbers. The Kings faced the harder competition in, arguably, the tougher conference to reach the Cup Finals. They dominated opponents en route to this match-up in a way that the Devils simply didn't.
I'm not saying that the Devils have no chance. I'll reiterate something I said when I was picking winners for round three: Betting against Martin Brodeur in the playoffs is generally a bad bet. Still, even i want to hedge on that when it's this Kings team as they're currently playing.
What we're getting is something I, as a hockey fan, want. It's an intriguing match-up of teams that didn't get a whole lot of consideration when the post-season dance started. If we want to call one of them an underdog, then the label applies to both - they both consistently beat higher-seeded teams to make it here. Of course, when we do that, we defeat the purpose of the label...
@miendiem You'll have your chance to make your Cup prediction in a couple days when our post goes up. I've personally struggled to figure who I'm going to side with. As of right now, who I think will win differs from who I want to see win.