MIDDLETON — Eighty-something days after the Flyers eliminated the Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Bruins Shawn Thornton , Milan Lucic , and Tuukka Rask  took to the golf course for Parkinson’s disease, re-energized on the tail end of the offseason. Frustration and shock that stained the end of the season seems to have washed away, and for good reason.
The Bruins infamously let the Flyers erase a 3-0 series lead and allowed Philadelphia to advance to the conference finals, where they would defeat the Canadiens.
“[It was] really hard. Obviously when something like that happens, it stays in for a long time, but you’ve just got to realize what happened and learn from that,” Rask said Monday. “I think if we’re ever in the same kind of situation again, we’re much stronger as a team and as individuals for [learning] from that situation.”
Since things ended for the Bruins, though, the team started on a course to fill whatever perceived holes they had while also retaining its core group of guys.
Though the team finished sixth in the conference with 91 points last season and were viewed as somewhat of a regular season disappointment, in coming within a game of playing for a shot to represent the East, the Bruins confirmed to Boston their legitimacy as a team with significant playoff potential. As a result, fans have overlooked the loss to the Flyers and instead have zeroed in on how close the Bruins appear to be. Whether it be adding Tyler Seguin  and Nathan Horton  or bringing back Mark Recchi , Blake Wheeler , Thornton, and key guys on defense, something has sent a jolt of life into Boston’s fanbase and the Bruins are noticing.
“People have been telling me around town that they don’t remember the last time there’s been such a buzz about the Bruins this time of year,” Lucic said. “It’s great that that’s going on right now. Obviously with that there’s a lot of expectation and I think there should be with our team. We’ve gone to the second round two times in the last two years. We should be striving to get better and striving to push for more and wanting to be better so we can make that jump to being an elite team where we can have that push into the playoffs and obviously have a real good playoff run.”
The Bruins also sold out full season-ticket packages this summer, further cementing the notion that hockey is gaining more steam in Boston. Fans also crowded Faneuil Hall on the night of the draft to watch the announcement of Seguin’s selection by the Bruins.
The players will take it one step at a time, though, as Rask seems antsy to just get onto the ice with the team next month.
“It’s funny. When you stay off the ice for a couple weeks you kind of miss it,” Rask said. “I skated last week in Finland with my friends and it felt pretty good, so I’m looking forward to it.”