Sushko, 22, said it was difficult to describe his emotions, and that it was “my dream” to reach the NHL. “As soon as we get closer to the game, I’m going to feel it,” he said after Wednesday’s practice.
He has played 30 games in Russia’s KHL and three with the AHL’s Phantoms this season.
“My training camp started in early July, and I’ve been practicing and playing since then, so it really helped,” said the 6-foot, 194-pound Sushko, who had 11 goals in 53 games with the Phantoms last season.
At practice Wednesday, Sushko, who was a fourth-round selection in the 2017 draft, was on a line with left winger Samuel Morin and center Andy Andreoff.
“I understand it’s my first game and I need to play simple,” he said. “... I just need to play hard and be responsible in the D zone.”
The Flyers, shorthanded because of the COVID-19 protocol, will be using several new players Thursday.
Head coach Alain Vigneault sounded eager to see what Sushko and David Kase, who will probably play left wing on the third line, can do. Vigneault said Phantoms coach Scott Gordon was impressed with both players.
“They are two players who were able to play in Europe [earlier this season],” Vigneault said. “Kase has some experience. And I liked Sushko last year in training camp. Big body, skates really well, so I’m sure both are very excited to get an opportunity to play and I’m sure they’re going to play really hard for us.”
Giroux’s streak ending
Claude Giroux, who has contracted the coronavirus, will have have his streak of playing in 328 straight games end Thursday. He is tied with Ivan Provorov for the second-longest streak in franchise history, behind only Rod Brind’Amour, who played in 484 consecutive games before missing a 1999 game with a broken foot.
Kase was also on the second power-play unit in practice. ... Goalie Carter Hart said he has been perfecting a four-ball juggling act to keep his instincts sharp. ... Sounding perplexed, Vigneault said he had “no idea” how the Flyers got hit hard by COVID-19, saying players and staff members have followed all safety protocols.