When the Flyers lost to Nashville on Saturday night, it was difficult to tell if the Flyers were experiencing the pitfalls of a break or just struggling to get going against a tough defensive team.
The Arizona Coyotes entered Monday's game allowing 111 goals this season, fourth-most in the NHL. This was not a feared defense. And the Flyers made them look like one.
When the Flyers finally turned it on, they nearly made it all the way back. In 10 minutes of energetic play, the Flyers almost got a point. But it's the play in the first 50 minutes, most notably the second period, that was so alarming.
"We have to come out and start getting points on a consistent basis," Steve Mason said. "We had a strong first period and fell back in the second. When we see the type of team that we can be when firing on all cylinders, we're a dangerous team. We just have to have that consistently."
Mason made 21 saves in his return to the lineup. The first period, where he faced just six shots, he seemed shaky. One shot deflected off Nick Grossmann and beat him.
The Flyers had 14 shots in the first period and were getting chances. Devan Dubnyk was a primary reason the Flyers were held off the board.
But as the game progressed, the Flyers were easily frustrated as the little mistakes continued to hurt them. Passes weren't close to connecting. The skating was slow. In the second and for most of the third, the shots the Flyers did take weren't all that difficult on Dubnyk.
"It's frustrating to lose the hockey game when we came out the way we did in the first," head coach Craig Berube said. "We got really down after the first goal. We turned the puck over too much [in the second]. It wasn't a good second period until six minutes to go in the period. We had a good third."
"Second periods seem to be a common theme throughout the season," R.J. Umberger, who scored both goals for the Flyers, said. "If it was something simple, I think we'd correct it. It's something we have to look deep down and see what we're doing between periods.
"The second period is huge. It sets up your whole game. We can't continue to be down two goals going to the third."
This is a time where the Flyers desperately need to earn points to stay relevant in the playoff race. Going into the Christmas break, the Flyers were six points out of a playoff spot following a three-game win streak that certainly showed promise. Following back-to-back losses, they are eight points out.
It's still not insurmountable, but given Arizona's recent struggles - three of their last four wins were against the NHL's worst team, the Edmonton Oilers - there were points there for the taking.
"It doesn't matter if it's a good or bad team," Claude Giroux said. "There's no bad teams in the league. We want to be a consistent team and we've got to find a way to do it every night."
"These are two points that were critical for us." Umberger said. "We fought to get to .500. We needed to get back there and get rolling. These points are a lot easier to get now than in April."
"We have to be more consistent," Mason said. "We need to start climbing the standings and tonight didn't help us."
There are three games left over this road trip where points could be easily obtained.
The Flyers face the Colorado Avalance on Wednesday. The Flyers previously defeated them, 4-3, in November and the Avalance sit last in the Central Division.
It's off to Carolina on Friday. Earlier this month, the Flyers handily defeated Carolina, 5-1. The Hurricanes have the fewest points in the East with 24 and are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games.
The road trip closes against the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers also beat them handily this month and the Devils just underway a massive coaching overhaul. They are 2-5-3 in their last 10 games.
There are six points potentially waiting to be grabbed. The Flyers got the first six on this trip the hard way. They likely need six more to make this road trip a complete success and return home in early January with a chance to get going.
But that task just became an uphill battle, losing to the Coyotes.
Wins in two of the last three games on the road trip would be excellent. But it won't erase much of the deficit in the standings. And that was aided by Monday's sloppy loss.
"We talk about things we've got to do and how to play and we haven't risen to the occassion on a number of times in the second period," Berube said. "It's tough to get shots on net when you turn the puck over all the time and don't have it. That's what we did in the second.
"It's lost points. That's for sure. You have to play for 60 minutes in this league against everybody. And when you don't, you're going to give yourself an opportunity to lose."
Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.