Apr 19 2017 2:30pm

A Romance Reader’s Guide to the 2017 NHL Playoffs, Part 2

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Note: This post is part 2 of a two-part series of posts that's perfect for hockey fans... and those who are just looking for some good recommendations, too! To see the recommendations for part 1, look here. Go sports!

More playoff Game 4s tonight, more familiar faces chiming in about their favorite hockey teams and the books they read to get through the playoffs. 

Here’s tonight’s Lineup:

  • Ottawa Senators vs Boston Bruins
  • Toronto Maple Leafs vs Washington Capitals
  • Nashville Predators vs Chicago Blackhawks 
  • Calgary Glames vs Anaheim Ducks
  • Minnesota Wild and St Louis Blues

Ottawa Senators

Why do you like this team?

Jenn Burke, Author: The Sens are my hometown team! I've been an Ottawa Senators fan since the reincarnation of the team in 1992. They've had seasons of brilliance and seasons of not-quite-realized brilliance, but regardless, they're an integral part of the community.

Who’s your favorite player/player to watch ?

Burke: I adore Chris Neil (#25). When he started with the Sens, he was a scrappy forward whose main role was to annoy the Leafs in the Battle of Ontario matchups. I met him in the early 2000s when the Sens were doing a series of autograph signings around the city, and OMG...he was so young! Since then, he's really matured into a solid player for the Senators. It's been fun to see him go from rookie to veteran.

Book recommendation: 

Coach's Challenge by Avon Gale

Burke: I've got to recommend Avon Gales' Breakaway, the first book in her Scoring Chances m/m hockey romance series. Lane Courtnall is the sweetest, most innocent, clueless and awkward dork of a character (and I say that lovingly). He's a joy to read, and his romance with Jared Shore is completely perfect for the two of them. It's so obvious Avon absolutely loves the game of hockey—it comes across in all of her characters. I can't wait for the next book in the series, Coach's Challenge, which is out in June!

Boston Bruins

Why do you like this team?

Shannon Stacey, Author:

You're born to sports teams, and I was not only lucky enough to be born in Bruins territory, but they won the Cup the year I was born. 1972 was also the year of the Stanley Cup typo—BQSTQN BRUINS—which amuses me. And when you throw in the fact they have the best fans in hockey, I'd never wear anything but the black and gold.

Avon Gale, Author:

Ugh, sometimes I don't even know. But I became a Bruins fan for a couple of reasons, a major one being everyone told me not to. I'm contrary that way, what can I say? I love the history behind the Bruins, and I adore the rivalry with the Habs and the many and varied stories that's produced over the years. The Bruins won my heart and hockey loyalty, and for better or worse, they're my team. Despite the fact I live nowhere near Boston and have only been there twice! Being from Kentucky and growing up amid crazy intense UK Wildcats fans means rabid sports allegiance is in my blood, LOL

Who’s your favorite player/player to watch ?

Stacey: I know it's not a particularly original answer, but I could watch Patrice Bergeron play hockey forever. Not only is he a great player, but he's smoking hot and, by all accounts, a great guy. (If you try to tell me differently, I'll cover my ears and chant la-la-la-la, so don't.) I've also really enjoyed watching Tim Schaller's career with the Bruins develop due to a tenuous Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-type connection.

Gale: My favorite Bruins player is David Krejci. I love how smart he is and what a great playmaker he is on the ice. But I can't lie—I love Brad Marchand a lot, too. Especially this season, he's been a phenomenal player. And I love how he speaks up about the importance of seeing a sports psychologist, and it was pretty great when he put the smack down on that homophobic fan on Twitter. All of that, and he still manages to be a pest! What more could you ask for?

Marc's the Spot by Meg Harding

Book recommendation:  

Stacey: A girl never forgets her first, so I'm going to say See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson. Hockey romances are hot right now, but they weren't always and Rachel Gibson's Seattle Chinooks hockey team were everything I wanted in a romance. I think I read See Jane Score so many times the cover fell off and, while there are many good hockey romances available now, that's the one I'll always reread for comfort. (Which Bruins fans sometimes need, in addition to copious amounts of Sam Adams.) 

Meg Harding's Marc's the Spot (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) is an adorable book about a RED PANDA SHIFTER GOALIE. What more do you even need to know? RED PANDA SHIFTER GOALIE. It's perfect and wonderful and happy-making, and just the thing for the playoffs if your team is made up of failbots and goes out in a blaze of first-round self-destruction glory

Toronto Maple Leafs

Why do you like this team :

Stephanie Julian, author: I haven’t been a lifelong fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. My allegiance to this Original Six team dates back to 2008, when the Reading Royals, my local ECHL team and my main hockey allegiance, became affiliated with the Leafs. Our goalie at the time was James Reimer, who eventually moved up to become the Leafs starter. Reimer is no longer there but I remained a fan even though the Leafs weren’t winning. In fact, the Leafs were pretty much bottom of the barrel. But I love an underdog and I stuck with them. This year, my faith was rewarded. With the addition of three rookies, three of the youngest players in the league, the team was revitalized.

Who’s your favorite player/player to watch?

Auston Matthews would be the easy answer. The top draft pick in 2016, he was on a tear at the end of the season. But every time Mitch Marner skates onto the ice, I can’t help but smile. My husband calls him shifty because of the way he moves through the opposing team. I just call him amazing. The kid looks like he’s having an amazing time. And so do I when I watch him play.

The Brick Wall by Stephanie Julian

Book recommendation:

The Brick Wall (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) is the first book in my Redtails hockey series. It’s my love letter to the sport. How can you go wrong with over six feet of sweaty, intense, muscular man.

Washington Capitals

Why do you like this team?

Kelly Maher, Author:

They're my second hometown team! If you want to know the first, check out last year's answers ;)

Lisa B Kamps, Author:

A couple of different reasons. First, being a lifelong resident of Maryland, they're the closest team. And no, I don't even count those Pennsylvania teams so don't go there!

Second—the very first hockey game I went to was a Caps game. My friend and I had club level seats and the Caps were on fire that night, winning by an insane score of something like 11-2. Peter Bondra had a hat trick and the excitement level was through the roof. It didn't hurt that Richard Zednik was a scratch that night and happened to be sitting right in front of me!! Not only did I become an instant hockey nut that night, I also discovered my very first hockey crush. Yes, Zed is the first of many

Who’s your favorite player/player to watch ?

Maher:  Braden Holtby. He's a superb goaltender and a significant reason why the Capitals are heading to the playoffs again this year.

Kamps:  This question is tougher than I thought it would be because I love watching so many of them. We have such a great roster filled with so many talented players: Ovi. Holtby. Oshie. Stick. Kuzy. I could keep going. But as much as I love watching all of them, I have to say Nicklas Backstrom. He's so quiet and often overlooked among all the other names. But he gets in there, does the job, and fades to the background when he's done. And it's so easy to see how much heart he plays with, every shift he's on the ice. Definitely one of our unsung heroes and one of my favorites!  That doesn't mean I don't enjoy watching the rest of them. I do! And I especially have lots of goalie love for Braden!

Book recommendation

Prime Minister by Ainsley Booth and Sadie Haller

Maher: I'm going to recommend the Frisky Beavers series by Ainsley Booth and Sadie Haller. The team is a pick up group for when these kinksters in
sensitive positions need to blow off steam in a non-sensational way.
The first book is Prime Minister, and, yeah... *sigh*. (Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Kamps:  Okay, wow. And I thought the other one was tough. There are so many great hockey romances out there, from Rachel Gibson and Deidre Martin all the way up to Jami Davenport and Kate Willoughby and Catherine Gayle and Helena Hunting and all my other hockey romance buddies who I don't have space to name so please don't hate me for leaving you out.   With so many great choices, you'd think it would be easy to pick one (it's not). You might even think I'd pick a hockey romance when my team makes me angry—or, in the case of my Caps right now, heartbroken.  But honestly? I think I'm going to have to go with Linda Howard's All The Queen's Men (Amazon | B&N | Kobo)…because OMG John Medina can make me forget everything, including my own name!! And when we're faced with another playoff disaster and the possibility of maybe another heartbreak in the post-season, I need something not hockey to take me away. And what could be better than intrigue and suspense and steamy hot alpha sex appeal wrapped up in a package like John Medina?  Of course, as much as I love Linda and all her books, I'm not in a hurry to re-read any of them right now so I'm really hoping my Caps can turn this around. We can, right? Somebody tell me we can…

Chicago Blackhawks

Why do you like this team?

Megan Broderick, Editor at Harlequin Books

Initially, the Blackhawks were a way to stay connected to home while I was away at college. That was the season after they won the Stanley Cup (the first time) and I poured a lot of my spare time into learning everything I could about hockey in general and the Hawks in particular. At the time, they were a fast and exciting young team with a lot of potential ahead of them. Now, 6 years and 2 more Stanley Cups later, they’re pretty much a modern dynasty and as much as I love a good underdog story, being a fan of a really good team has been a lot of fun. They’ve gone from those young hotshots to a more mature, experienced team and I think they’ve still got a few more championships left in ‘em. 

Who’s your favorite player/player to watch?

Favorite player: This changes depending on the day, I’ll admit, but for now it’s Scott Darling. He may only be the backup goalie, but he’s been known to steal a game or two when we need him to. Add in the fact that he seems like a genuinely nice person AND is a hometown boy (well, from Lamont, so close enough)? It’s a winning (pun intended) combination.

Book recommendation

Rebel Cowboy by Nicole Helm

Rebel Cowboy by Nicole Helm. (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) What better book to recommend than one about a (sort-of former) Blackhawk? He doesn’t ACTUALLY play much hockey in the book, since he’s off in Montana being a llama rancher, but Dan is trying to figure out “what do I do without hockey?” much the way I do at the end of the season. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug Mel as one of the best prickly heroines I’ve read in a while.

Nashville Predators

Why do you like this team?

Liza Brown, Reviewer, Blogger:

I honestly had not watched much hockey before Nashville got a team. I was in on pushing to get the team and fell in love with the sport after my first game. The Preds are my team partly because they are my hometown team and partly from helping push to bring them here.

Lizzie Keiper, Reader:

Two reasons 1. They are my local team, and I've been with them since they started here in the Nashville. 2. Every player shows such dedication and heart on and off the ice. These men care about their fans and the community in Nashville, and they show their appreciation for us whenever they can.

Who’s your favorite player/player to watch?

Brown: I love Pekka Rinne and Mike Fisher and still miss Shea Weber being in the ice with the Preds

Keiper: Pekka Rinne. He's incredible to watch in the goal, and he's a leader for the team. He makes impressive saves every game, and he seems to be a great mentor for our young goaltender Juuse Saros.

Book recommendation

Taking Shots by Toni Aleo

Brown: Taking Shots by Toni Aleo. (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) Set in Nashville but a different team, but I fell in love with the characters in this series. Taking Shots is the first book in her Assassins series.

Keiper: A good book to get lost in for a while is Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory. (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) It's an interesting mystery at the core, and I found the characters fascinating

Minnesota Wild

Why do you like this team?

Kristi Yanta, Freelance Editor

I think everyone who’s grown up in the State of Hockey is a fan of our hometown team. The Minnesota Wild play a fast game, relying on our speed, solid defense, and balanced scoring (we have 12 different players with 10+ goals). Even though we’ve gone through a recent rough patch, I’m excited about the playoff potential for this year’s team, which has a +50 goal differential and has been in the top 5 NHL power rankings all season. (Can you tell I’m a stats geek?)

Who’s your favorite player/players to watch?

My kids love Zach Parise, and I can’t deny that his work ethic and hustle is second to none. I’m personally a big fan of our top two D-men, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon, who do so many little things that make a huge difference for our team.

But perhaps my favorite player to watch this year is winger Mikael Granlund. He’s a true playmaker who can dish out a mind-boggling assist just as well as he can score a highlight-reel goal.

Book recommendation

The Deal by Elle Kennedy

My favorite hockey romance series is the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy. (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) Granted, there isn’t a lot of hockey in the later books in the series, but every single one of the heroes from this fictional Briar University hockey team captured my sports-loving heart!

St. Louis Blues

Why do you like this team?

Anna Bloecher, Reviewer:

The first time I saw them they lost 7-3 to the Caps, so maybe that left an impression? I can’t excatly pinpoint when they became my team, but it was somewhere between puck drop and the final horn.  What I love about the Blues is how they as a team turned their season around and even made it to the playoffs, not to mention having the chance to advance to round two in the next game!

Who’s your favorite player/player to watch?

I’m an absolute goalie kind of girl. ;) Though I really can’t decide between Jake Allen and Carter Hutton, so I’ll go with both.

Book recommendation

I initially I fell in love with hockey when I read Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances series. The more I read about hockey, the more I wanted to see a game, so I actually went and flew to america (to visit a friend) and to see a game. And it was just amazing! Admittedly I would have probably loved it more if the Blues hadn’t lost. But the atmosphere and everything was just amazing. I fell hard and fast and am now getting up at ungodly hours to watch the playoffs (if my work schedule allows it). Back to the question though: If I really have to choose, then it’s Empty Net by Avon Gale. I adore the story and it features two goalie MC’s! :D

Anaheim Ducks

Why do you like this team? 

Jami Davenport, Author:

They’re a Pacific Coast team.

Who’s your favorite player/player to watch?

Ryan Getzlaf because he’s not only the captain, but he’s a great all-around player.

On the Surface by Kate Willoughby

Book recommendation

Kate Willoughby’s In the Zone series which is set in California. This series is my go-to series when I just need an escape. (Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Calgary Flames

Why do you like this team?

Stina Lindenblatt, Author

I've lived most of my life in Calgary (although I'm originally from England), so naturally I'm a Flames fan. But I didn't exactly grow up in a hockey family. My mom is originally from Finland, so she did grow up on the a spectator. But it wasn't until the Calgary Flames won their first (and only) Stanley Cup in 1989 that I became interested in the sport and the team.

Who’s your favorite player/player to watch?

TJ Brodie, and it has nothing to do with his killer eyelashes. Much. Like many of the players on the team, he's heavily involved with a charity that means a lot to him (involving cystic fibrosis), plus he's a dynamic player on the ice. I love watching him play. There's a reason he's one of the most valuable defensemen on the team.

Book Recommendation: 

The Deal by Elle Kennedy. I tend to love books with a humor in them (even if the book is predominantly angsty), and this is one of those hockey books that had me chuckling while reading it. 

What team are you rooting for?

H&H Editor Picks:

Live From Romancelandia: A Viewing Guide to the NHL Playoffs

Romance Novel and Olympics Heroes

April 2017 Romance New Releases






Stacey Agdern, @nystacey

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