WILMINGTON, Mass. – How hot does Tuukka Rask have to be for the Bruins to find some way to defeat the allegedly irresistible force that is the Pittsburgh Penguins?

If the stats, the facts and the mythology are to be believed, he has to be hotter than Friday was in Portland, Maine

Facing a lineup of snipers, slapshooters and swivel-headed passers like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, James Neal, Kris Letang, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz, Rask will need to be hotter than nuclear fission to be the difference between the Bruins and the startlingly offensive-minded Penguins many experts on such matters insist.

To a great extent, this was the same story you heard two years ago when there was no way the Bruins could defeat the Vancouver Canucks either. After all, they had the Swedes, remember?

Within two weeks, Tim Thomas had turned the Sedin twins into Swedish meatballs and the Canucks into a psychological wreck so devastated by his acrobatics that they’ve won only one of their last 11 playoff games since leading the Bruins 3-2 in those 2011 Stanley Cup finals.

What would it take for Rask to do the same to the prolific Penguins?

If you believe the numbers, he will have to be hotter than John Tortorella at a postgame press conference.

He’ll have to be a combination of the Great Wall of China and Cirque du Soleil.

The Penguins, after all, enter the Eastern Conference finals with three of the top four point producers (Malkin, Latang and Crosby) and three of the top five goal scorers (seven each for Crosby and Dupuis; six for Neal) in the playoffs.

So what is a mere mortal goalie to do? Does he wake up in a cold sweat every night?

“Not really,” a serene looking Rask said when asked if he gets nervous thinking about the Penguins. “I feel excitement, maybe.”

As he spoke, Rask sounded about as excited as a checkout clerk at Hannaford.

He is either the greatest actor since Paul Newman, or he’s as cool as your freezer compartment.

Rask willingly acknowledged the Penguins’ skill, size, depth and ability to turn the smallest error into a number on the scoreboard.

He was not a man in denial. Then again, his knees were not knocking.

He was merely a realist who stops rubber for a living, acknowledging that the people who will be shooting it at him have great skills. But, with all due respect, so what?

“It always does,” Rask said with the impish grin of a guy who understands the vagaries of his job when asked if the series will come down to goaltending.

He didn’t add, as Tortorella might, “You blithering idiot!” but it was clear he knows his role this series will not be a cameo appearance.

To beat the Penguins you need to do many things, but the most important is to repel rubber as if you’re allergic to it. But how’s that different from any other time he’s on the ice?

“Maybe to a certain extent you have to accept they are going to score some goals,” Rask said. “It’s what kind of goals that matter. Are they bad goals or ones where you had no chance?”

Considering that the Penguins hammered home 13 goals in their last two playoff decapitations of the Ottawa Senators, Rask would have every right to have trouble swallowing at the mere thought of them.

While the Penguins have beaten him twice this season by a single goal, they are a different and more potent team today after additions made at the trade deadline.

The Penguins reloaded for a playoff run, a fact not lost on Rask’s teammates, but neither was another significant fact.

“Tuukka has been our most consistent player all year long,” Bruins center Chris Kelly said.

Friday it was 85 degrees outside Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass., the Bruins’ practice facility. The air felt like it was on fire . . . just like Tuukka Rask expects to be Saturday night, if necessary.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said as serenely as if he was the Dalai Lama, “but I don’t think it’s going to be like a fathers-and-sons game.”

In other words, the Penguins may score, but understand this: Some rubber is going to get repelled, too.