Bruce Cassidy calls out Bruins' 'second layer' players ahead of Game 3

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During his pregame press conference Wednesday, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was asked about the team's "black aces" -- the players who are with the team but further down the depth chart and not particularly close to playing, like Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril.

He answered the question, saying they're "preparing as best they can" and that the team isn't "that far down the road" of considering playing them in playoff games. Then he took his answer in a bit of a different direction and seemingly made a point to call out some of the players who are in the lineup right now.

"What we do need is better from the middle of our group," Cassidy said. "That second layer of our group that have been in the league and who could be the future of the Boston Bruins. We’re not going to try to predict what’s going to happen down the road, but these are guys that can really make a name for themselves in this playoff. We’ve had a decade-long production from our top end and our core. They show up to play every night.

"What we’re looking for a little bit tonight in a back-to-back, it’s become a bit of a young legs playoff, if you look around. We need some of that tonight. That was a bit of the message today. It’s time for those guys to step up and pull the veteran core along. And what I mean is energy-wise. Obviously, Brad Marchand to me was the best player on the ice. He doesn’t need any help. He’s fine. He’s going to show up and play. Some of the other guys that we rely on were brought in, it’s time for them to pull a little harder on the rope in the game today and we’ll see if that materializes."

Cassidy didn't name names, but there are at least a couple who seemingly fit the bill. Jake DeBrusk came up big in Game 4 against Carolina, but has been quiet in the three games since, registering zero points and four shots on goal.

Brandon Carlo has been a bit inconsistent throughout this postseason, and was at least partially at fault on two of Tampa's goals in Game 2. He couldn't bail out defense partner Torey Krug on the Lightning's first goal, as Zach Bogosian split the two of them up the middle of the ice after turning around Krug. Then on Tampa's overtime winner, it was Carlo's poor decision to rim the puck around the boards to no one that began a long offensive-zone possession for the Lightning that eventually ended with the goal.

Ondrej Kase still hasn't been able to bury his first goal of the playoffs despite numerous chances seemingly every game. Anders Bjork finally registered his first point of the playoffs Tuesday night, but even that assist came off a shot that missed the net by a lot. Connor Clifton took a bad penalty in Game 2 and also got caught out of position on the Lightning's third goal.

Charlie Coyle and Matt Grzelcyk are also in that "second layer" future of the team, but it's hard to imagine Cassidy is too disappointed in either of them, as they've both been pretty solid this postseason.

It's also worth noting that Kase is new to the team and Bjork and Clifton aren't relied on quite as much as some other guys, so it really seems like the safest bets for who Cassidy is talking about would be DeBrusk and/or Carlo.

Either way, Cassidy doesn't tell the media anything he doesn't also tell the players themselves, so it will be interesting to see if the Bruins' second and third lines and D pairings do step up Wednesday night.

That could be of even more importance given that Cassidy also said there is a "game-time decision" in the Bruins forward group for Game 3.

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