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Jean-François Houle didn’t believe in the Rocket’s chances

The Rocket is eliminated and it’s time to take stock. The team from Laval fought to the end of the season for a spot in the playoffs. When the spot was secured, there was the same kind of excitement in Quebec as last year, when the Rocket had a great playoff run. Tickets for the first game of the series against the Utica Comets sold out in about 30 minutes.

Despite all the excitement, the Rocket didn’t deliver, losing both games to the Comets. Most players are obviously disappointed with the result, but head coach Jean-François Houle expected as much.

“I don’t think we were built for playoff success.” – Jean-François Houle

It’s very hard on his team, but it’s realistic. The team is definitely not the same one that made it to the conference finals last year. Justin Barron and Corey Schueneman spent some time in Montreal, leaving several young players on defense.

As Vincent Demuy of RDS reports, Jean-François Houle was also aware that he was missing some role players. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylönen spent a lot of time in Montreal due to injuries. They could have helped the team reach greater heights had they been able to stay in the AHL longer.

Comparing the 2021-22 and 2022-23 teams, there were some major changes. There were far fewer veterans this year. In 2021-22, Laval could count on Xavier Ouellet, Kevin Roy, Gabriel Bourque, Louie Belpedio, Laurent Dauphin and Cédric Paquette. All these veterans have left the Rocket boat, and it hurts a lot.

Having lots of talented youngsters may seem like a good idea, but you have to surround them well. The Rocket didn’t do that in 2022-23.

Laval gave their all to make the playoffs. As they began their post-season run, we sensed a lack of energy. That’s what made the difference in their series against Utica, and it was precisely that energy that carried the Rocket to the association final in 2021-22.

The Laval squad should still be very young next year. We’ll have to find a way to mentor the youngsters with veterans to avoid another early elimination from the playoffs.

In bursts

– A nice gesture from 1642.

– What an atmosphere!

– Ayoye.

– Bad idea.

– Next stop: Ottawa.

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