November 07, 2014

It could go either way.

Up next might be the lengthy road trip that saves Colorado's season or the one that lets it snowball out of control.

The Avalanche hope to start rolling in the right direction when they open their longest road trip in six years Tuesday night against the struggling Philadelphia Flyers.

Colorado (4-9-1) is buried at the bottom of a stacked Central Division as one of three NHL teams with single-digit points. The Avalanche are 2-4-0 on the road and will need to find themselves away from home if they hope to straighten out soon.

A seven-game road trip that starts in Philadelphia matches the franchise's longest since relocating to Denver after the 1994-95 season. Colorado, which also played seven straight road games from Oct. 8-21, 2009, has 14 of its next 18 away Denver.

"This is a huge trip for us," defenseman Tyson Barrie told the team's official website. "It's a chance for us to play some good road games and string some wins together and get back in this thing. It's a chance for us to bond and get tighter as a team."

The pieces haven't fit together yet. Colorado has lost four of five, is 2-7-1 in its last 10 games and still hasn't won two in a row.

Finding a solution in net would be a good place to start.

With Semyon Varlamov struggling to a 3.26 goals-against average in 10 starts, the Avs have turned to Reto Berra of late. Berra made 31 saves in a 2-1 home loss to the New York Rangers on Friday and will start against the Flyers.

Berra is just 1-3-0 despite his 1.85 GAA and .943 save percentage. He has lost all three of his career starts against Philadelphia with a 3.11 GAA.

Coach Patrick Roy is looking anywhere to spark a change.

"We've been involved in eight one-goal games, and we're 1-7. Obviously, we have to find something that will make the difference," he told the team's official website.

Colorado has lost four straight in Philadelphia, but the Flyers (5-6-3) have experienced their own struggles of late. They snapped a six-game skid with a 3-0 victory at Winnipeg on Saturday in the final game of a 1-3-1 road trip.

Coach Dave Hakstol insists there isn't a permanent change in net despite Michal Neuvirth becoming the NHL's first goaltender with three shutouts after making 28 saves against the Jets. Neuvirth ranks among the league leaders with a 1.81 GAA and .945 save percentage in eight games, seven starts.

Hakstol, though, said Steve Mason is still his No. 1 goalie despite a 3.34 GAA in eight appearances.

Neuvirth is 0-3-0 with a 3.38 GAA against Colorado while Mason is 4-1-1 with a 1.99 GAA in his last six meetings.

"I want both our guys to battle to be in the net," Hakstol said. "I want both guys to have the mentality to go out every day and work to earn the spot in the net."

Mason isn't threatened just yet.

"No, it's not making me sweat," Mason said. "It's good for him personally and it's good for the team."

One of the biggest reason for Philadelphia's struggles is the non-production of Jakub Voracek. The eighth-year forward has no goals and five assists in 14 games after tying for fourth in the league last season with a career-high 81 points.

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