PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Don’t worry, Kris Letang insists. The heat is coming.
Sure, the Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman admits the New York Rangers don’t invite quite the same animosity inside his team’s locker room as the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Rangers ended any shot of that tantalizing matchup when they beat the Flyers in seven games to set up a showdown with Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting Friday.
That doesn’t mean Letang expects the next two weeks to be devoid of drama. Far from it.
"I’m pretty sure the intensity will get really high at one point when we start," Letang said.
It’s an internal battle the Penguins won during a taut first-round series against Columbus. Expected to send the inexperienced Blue Jackets home without much effort, Pittsburgh needed six trying games to advance.
The way the Penguins figure it, that’s a good thing. Forced to respond to adversity, they played what coach Dan Bylsma called their best 120 minutes this season to avoid the upset.
The Penguins will need to do it four more times if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year. They split their four regular-season meetings with New York, all of them coming before the Olympic break.