"Why is an underdog so attractive? It may have something do with how hard he tries. Vandello showed subjects a video clip of a basketball game between two international teams said to be playing for a championship. One side was described as the 9-to-1 favorite, having won each of 15 previous playoff matches. After viewing the footage, which showed a close game, students were asked to rate the players according to their ability and effort.
As a rule, the underdogs were characterized as having less "talent" and "intelligence" than the favorites but more "hustle" and "heart." That was true even when subjects viewed the same video clip with the labels reversed. It didn't matter what was actually on the screen—which players jumped higher or who dived for the loose balls. The test subjects attributed more effort to whichever team had the underdog label."
I'm sure these results would be no different in hockey, and often explains why teams like the Colorado Avalanche are considered a plucky, gritty, group of warriors while teams like the San Jose Sharks are often described as lazy bunch of wimps. The problem is that the evidence from the games they played against each other showed San Jose heavily outshoting Colorado. When the underdog that is supposedly trying to so hard and giving it their all can't even get the puck away from a team that is allegedly made up entirely of soft players that don't even care, it either indicates the first team is really, really terrible or that the subjective observation is wrong.
It's possible that an underdog team actually does outwork a favourite, but we need to be careful to ensure that it was not just a convenient narrative but something that actually happened. If you are going to insult the professionalism of a group of players, coaches and managers by implying they don't care about winning or that they weren't prepared to play, you need a lot more evidence to support your point than the fact that the goalie on the other team made a lot of saves.
(P.S. What do you think the results would be if a similar video study was done on a group of Canadian hockey fans, where the viewers were told that one team was Russian and the other team was Canadian? Something tells me that would have a pretty significant impact on which team was showing more "hustle".)