The Bruins may be facing a truly devilish decision with Patrice Bergeron: They're definitely damned if they don't, and they could be damned if they do.

If the Bruins are to bounce back from their poor performance against Tampa Bay during Saturday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, it sure would help to get Bergeron back from the concussion he suffered May 6 against Philadelphia.

Here they are involved in their most important playoff series in nearly 20 years, with a once-in-a-career opportunity laid out in front of them. And this is a player — the Bruins' leading playoff scorer, their best faceoff man and their best all-around forward —they desperately need.

Yet coach Claude Julien, as he's done nearly every day since the injury happened, insisted Bergeron will not be rushed back into the lineup. Not for tomorrow night's Game 2 or any other.

"If he's not 100 percent," said Julien, "he'll never play."

Bergeron skated yesterday for the second consecutive day and looked good — although passing the puck around with assistant coach Doug Houda isn't exactly the same thing as going to playoff war.

The brass hasn't said much about his condition, other than that he is improving. Concussions diagnosed as mild, such as his, typically sideline a player for only a week or two. But Bergeron's situation — and the Bruins' experience on the topic of brain injury — is anything but typical.

Bergeron has now had three significant concussions in the last four seasons. And the Bruins, of course, have watched the sad path followed by center Marc Savard since he was blindsided by the NHL's preeminent cheap-shot artist, Penguins forward Matt Cooke, last March 7 — an act that in effect may have ended Savard's career.

Bergeron isn't just a guy the Bruins need this week — he should be a key to their team for the next decade. And the team has seen all too vividly the hidden and unpredictable nature of concussions with Savard.