Colorado Avalanche Road Trip — What To Expect?


The Avalanche are headed to California.

It’s a great time to head to the beach — Get a little surfing in, walk the beach, and take in the sunshine.

The Avalanche have a bit chillier agenda, but it should be fun nonetheless. Over the upcoming week, the Avs will finish off the road portion of their season, as they take to the ice in San Jose, Anaheim, and Los Angeles.

The gave some slightly surprising news on how the goaltenders will be utilized in California.

Obviously, this is a big opportunity for Reto Berra. The Avalanche leaned heavily on Semyon Varlamov this season, especially during the second half. Berra hasn’t had a lot of starts, and really struggled in the few he had earlier this season. This led to a steep decline in confidence from the coaching staff, but now that the playoffs are off the table, Roy is giving his backup a chance.

Berra is coming off of two nice performances. He stopped 26-of-27 shots in a relief appearance in Edmonton, and followed that up with a victory and 33-of-34 save performance the following night in Vancouver. Berra’s season numbers sit at 3-3-1 with a 2.97 GAA and 0.906 save percentage.

These next two starts are a massive opportunity for Berra to get some confidence in his game, and show something to the Avalanche coaching staff heading into the off-season. This year was rough for Berra, with Calvin Pickard stealing a lot of his thunder with strong play. A few good starts in the bank could go a long way for Berra’s future in the NHL.

From the Avalanche perspective, I really don’t think they envision Berra as a key or central figure moving forward. If he happens to turn things around, great. I just don’t think they are counting on it. If Berra flames out in his starts, it just improves the Avalanche draft position, and that’s not a bad thing.

Avalanche fans also got some news on Erik Johnson, and if he will be stretching his condor wings any time soon.

There have been rumblings that EJ is getting close to a return, but as our own Nadia Archuleta shared with us, Johnson was skating in a red sweater today at practice.

She thinks he looks good skating, and could be ready for the final home-stand. If he’s healthy and ready to go, I’m all for it. I love watching him play, and seeing him return to action will be a small desert to to the season.

There are also those who think he should just be shut down for the rest of the year. Why risk re-injuring or further damaging the knee injury he is recovering from? I think this is a valid concern, but if he’s good to go I don’t think there’s any harm in playing. It’s up to the Avalanche to be smart about it, and I’m sure they will be.

As far as the rest of the team, Ryan O’Reilly will look to continue his 8-game point streak. Jarome Iginla takes aim at 30 goals for 13th straight non-lockout season. He currently sits at 26.

I’m also hoping that we see a little bit more from Joey Hishon. I’m going out on a limb, and predicting we see him score his first NHL goal on the trip. I also am advocating that Patrick Roy and the Avalanche #FreeJoeyHishon, and expand his role. A Hishon-Duchene-Iginla line sounds mighty fine in my book.

The Kings game has potential to be a fun one. You can say the Avalanche don’t have much left to play for, but playing spoiler to the Kings would be a sweet finish the road portion of their season.

Only six more games of Avalanche hockey this season, folks. Enjoy it while you can!

Next: Free Joey Hishon!

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