The Flyers, who could have a new top-line left winger and a key center return to the lineup when their season resumes Wednesday, are about to start a three-game trip that will have stops in St. Louis, San Jose, and Anaheim.
Thanks to an 11-2-1 run that featured a 10-game winning streak, the Flyers (20-12-4) hold the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It's important not to give back the ground that we gained," general manager Ron Hextall said Tuesday after practice in Voorhees. "Yeah, we've gained some ground the last month and half. But we can't give it back. We have to keep pushing here."
The Flyers, who returned to practice after a four-day holiday break, are seven points ahead of Carolina, but the Hurricanes have three games in hand.
Hextall said he is "happy with where we're at, but we have a lot of work to do. Obviously, the last month, we've been really good. Before that, we weren't as good, and we have to become more consistent over the course of the whole year."
When the team plays in St. Louis on Wednesday, it appears Taylor Leier will replace Michael Raffl as the top-line left winger.
At practice, Leier was on a line with Claude Giroux and Matt Read, who was a placeholder for Jake Voracek (maintenance day). Read, coming back from a oblique-abdominal injury, likely won't be ready to play until the team returns home Jan. 4 against the New York Rangers.
On Wednesday, Leier figures to be with Giroux and Voracek, the Flyers' top two scorers.
"I'm not going to play differently with whatever line I'm on," said Leier, who has been used mostly on the fourth unit with Nick Cousins and Dale Weise. "If I get put up there, I'm getting put up there for a reason, and that's to play my game. Stick to my strengths and bring speed and energy to those guys."
Leier called Giroux and Voracek "world-class talents, and it would be nice to play with them if I get the opportunity."
Leier figures to get a lot more minutes than in his first eight games.
"I don't see that as a problem," he said. "I played a lot down there in the American League, and every chance I get in practice I've been working hard to keep up all my endurance that I've built over the year so far."
Leier has a goal and an assist in the eight games since being recalled from the AHL's Phantoms. He had 20 points in 22 games with Lehigh Valley this year.
"There's lots of things to like," coach Dave Hakstol said of Leier. "He's done a good job in a couple of different roles, but he doesn't seem to change his game. He's a pretty intelligent two-way player. Responsible defensively. And each and every night he's brought good pace and good tenacity."
In another potential lineup change, Sean Couturier could return from a left knee injury that has sidelined him for the last 16 games. Couturier wasn't at Tuesday's practice because of travel issues, but Hextall said he was hopeful he could play Wednesday.
"He's obviously a huge part of our team," Hakstol said.
If Couturier returns, he would probably center Cousins and Weise on the third line. Hakstol said he wants to keep Brayden Schenn at center, where he has been between Travis Konecny and Wayne Simmonds.
The Flyers returned to the ice after spending four days with their families and friends. "Guys are refreshed to be back and excited to be back," Hakstol said. "The mental energy is back."
As for Wednesday, Hakstol said the Flyers need to play a "simple game and be very determined right away. You can't wade into it. You've got to get out and get going."