Blakely: This is Rondo's team now

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Blakely: This is Rondo's team now

BOSTON For years, the talk around town has been that sooner or later, this Boston Celtics team would be Rajon Rondo's team.

That time appears to be now.

Rondo continues to play at a level that none of his teammates - not Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen - are at currently.

"This is his team right now," said coach Doc Rivers.

While Allen has been solid for the C's all season, Rondo has been far and away their best player.

"Rajon is amazing, period," said Kevin Garnett. "You talk about big things are coming; big things are here. Rajon is keeping us alive every night. We just have to make sure we follow his lead, and follow his effort, and we're going to turn this thing around."

Said Rondo: "I just try to attack, be aggressive, get us easy baskets, easy looks; if it's for myself or it's for my teammates. Right now, our offense is behind our defense. Getting easy looks is going to help."

To hear Rivers and the Celtics talk so glowingly about Rondo speaks volumes about how quickly things can change in the NBA.

Just a few weeks ago, the C's were diligently working on a trade that would have sent Rondo to New Orleans for Chris Paul.

Not only did the Hornets not like the deal, but Paul wasn't thrilled about the prospect of playing for the C's in part because of their steadily diminishing window of opportunity to be among the NBA's elite.

Boston's efforts at landing David West came up short as well, with West signing a two-year, 20 million deal with the Indiana Pacers.

So that leaves Rondo and the rest of the aging Celtics to see if they can do the improbable, which would be to somehow catapult themselves back into the conversation as an NBA title contender.

Rondo, who has showed no signs of ill will towards the franchise that just a few weeks ago was ready to ship him out of town, seems more than up for the challenge of putting the C's on his back.

But he can't do it alone.

It's very likely that at some point this season, Paul Pierce will get on track offensively, and Ray Allen will continue nailing dagger 3-pointers in the fourth and Garnett will become a defensive stalwart who can also hurt teams with his elbow-jumper.

But as they return to form, the C's will have to figure out how to continue getting major production from Rondo while at the same time, getting their core players to make major contributions as well.

Rivers has no idea how all this is going to play out. But what he does know is that Rondo is playing well; better than any other Celtic player.

And when the rest of the Big Three get on track, Rondo should still be their best player.

"Rondo's just playing terrific," Rivers said. "And we've got to allow him to be terrific. We shouldn't get in his way."

Video: Chara hits practice goalie in groin

Video: Chara hits practice goalie in groin

BRIGHTON, Mass -- Life as an emergency practice goalie can be pretty rough.

Take, for instance, Mass State Trooper Keith Segee, who has suited up a couple of times for the Boston Bruins this season during times of need, and did exactly that during Wednesday’s optional practice for the Black and Gold.

Segee got caught with a Zdeno Chara cranked slap shot right in the family jewels, and then had to walk…er, crawl it off like any normal human being would after getting bombed by a guy that can shoot it 108-mph.

“He’s got the hardest shot of anybody I’ve ever seen,” said Segee, with a smile. “I had to take two or three laps around the rink after that one and skate it off.”

Give Chara credit for moving right over to Segee and giving him a tap on the backside for skating it off, and risking life, limb and perhaps a lot more to stop a few pucks for the Black and Gold.

Segee played at Revere High and Salem State College before joining the Mass State Police, and got the emergency gig through Bruins goalie coach Bob Essensa when Boston needed a practice goalie at the end of last week in Tuukka Rask’s absence.

Let’s hope Segee is okay at this point, or the Bruins captain could be looking at a few more moving violations in his future. 

Wednesday, March 29: Oilers back in the playoffs

Wednesday, March 29: Oilers back in the playoffs

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while gearing up for the last couple of weeks.

*The Edmonton Oilers will return to the Stanley Cup playoffs this season as it looks like Canada will be well-represented once again after last year’s absence.

*Let’s meet the man behind the push to bring the NHL to China, and introduce the game to billions of people.

*Eric Staal is enjoying his second act with the Minnesota Wild, and even better he’s totally flourishing there as well.

*Let’s hear it for the US Women’s team that stuck to their guns and got an unprecedented deal with USA Hockey that will allow them to focus on winning for the next four years.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has Steve Stamkos “really close” to a return for the Tampa Bay Lightning, in a concerning development for the Boston Bruins’ playoff hopes.

*Apparently things are getting a little heightened with the Los Angeles Kings as some of their prominent players skipped a media session in Calgary.

*For something completely different: Let’s hear it for the best news of the day, the Cash Cab is coming back.