Some quick observations from the Flyers' 3-2 loss in Florida on Thursday:
As has been the case after recent holiday breaks, the Flyers were outhustled and outplayed — especially in the first part of the game — when they returned.
They are now 0-10-2 during road trips immediately following Christmas over the last four years. Dave Hakstol has been the coach in three of those seasons.
Early in the game, Flyers veteran goalie Brian Elliott got a two-minute penalty.
With Florida (16-16-5) on a five-on-four power play, Aleksander Barkov split the defense and went in alone. Elliott alerty poke-checked the puck away from Barkov and his stick caught his skate and he went down.
It's a play I've seen hundreds of times since I started watching hockey in 1967.
But the first time I've ever seen a goalie called for tripping on such a play.
It was a laughable call, and the Flyers – thanks to Elliott's goaltending, Radko Gudas' shot blocking, and some solid PK work — were able to kill off a two-man disadvantage that lasted 1:21.
Michael Raffl lost a fight against Alexander Petrovic midway through the second period, but he seemed to spark the Flyers with his effort.
The Flyers played much better in the last half of the game, and got to within 3-2 on goals late in the third period by Scott Laughton and Sean Couturier.
Under Hakstol, this has become the Flyers' identity: They start slowly.
Even during their recent six-game winning streak they allowed the first goal four times.
The Flyers (15-14-8) had four days between their last game, but they still came out with no fire Thursday. They surrendered the first goal for the sixth time in the last seven games. Jarred McCann scored from the high slot 6:43 into the game – his first goal in the last 14 games – on a shot Elliott would like to have back.
Rookie defenseman Robert Hagg gave McCann too much skating room, but it was a save Elliott has to make.
The Flyers were outshot, 13-5, in the first 20 minutes. They outplayed Florida in the last 1 1/2 periods, but the damage had been done.
While the Flyers were on a second-period power play, Claude Giroux lost the puck at the offensive blue line, enabling Florida to go on a two-on-one. Derek MacKenzie converted a feed from Colton Sceviour to give Florida its seventh shorthanded goal this season and a 2-0 lead.
It was MacKenzie's first goal in 32 games.
Have you noticed that when the Flyers have an odd-man rush they aren't nearly as effective as when their opponents have numbers?
Otis elevators should have the Flyers as its mascot. Up, down. Up, down.
They recently lost 10 straight, immediately followed by a six-game winning streak, immediately followed by their current skid — four losses in their last five games.
And they play best-in-the-NHL Tampa Bay on Friday.