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‘Reliable’ Kulikov All Smiles with Penguins; Sullivan Replaces Joseph with New D-Man (+)



Pittsburgh Penguins, Dmitry Kulikov

The Pittsburgh Penguins will have new defense pairings when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena, and the new pairs could signify a shift in personnel as much as a demotion for P.O Joseph.

Dmitry Kulikov will be in the Penguins’ lineup in place of Joseph. Coach Mike Sullivan didn’t hesitate when asked.

“We’ll make lineup decisions like we always do (on gameday), but I would anticipate Kulikov playing,” Sullivan said. “He’s a real trustworthy defenseman and good on the penalty kill. In Anaheim, he played against a lot of teams’ top players all year long. His size and his strength will help us. He’s just a reliable, trustworthy guy.”

Kulikov skated on the third pairing with Jan Rutta Monday at practice. Sullivan’s note about Kulikov’s reliability, even as the defenseman faced the top competition, speaks volumes.

It’s been a whirlwind for Kulikov, 32, who arrived in Pittsburgh Sunday evening. As he finished his media scrum, Penguins’ PR staff introduced themselves. It’s been that hectic since Friday.

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