Patriots

Why did Andrew Luck shave his head?

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Why did Andrew Luck shave his head?

From Comcast SportsNetINDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Andrew Luck has joined the shaved squad, too.Nearly three dozen players on the Indianapolis Colts have shaved their heads in a show of support for head coach Chuck Pagano, who is undergoing treatment for a form of leukemia.Luck became a new member of the no-hair club Wednesday morning. Players and coaches were not available for comment because they were headed to Jacksonville, but a team spokesman confirmed that Luck will indeed look quite different when he takes off his helmet Thursday night."Buzzed heads and orange locks in honor of Chuck," team owner Jim Irsay tweeted. He also included a link to a photo showing many of the players who had gotten buzzed.Indianapolis (5-3) has gone to great lengths to give their ailing coach encouragement.Reggie Wayne wore orange gloves against Green Bay, the ribbon color used to raise awareness for leukemia. Nameplates above player's lockers at the team complex now include orange stickers with Pagano's initials in the middle of Indy's trademark horseshoe. They sent Pagano a game ball after their surprising win over the Packers on Oct. 4. Irsay has placed signs reading (hash)Chuckstrong in each end zone of Lucas Oil Stadium, and the team has been trying to raise money to support leukemia research.The newest addition to the agenda came late Tuesday when the team said Wayne, Luck and interim coach Bruce Arians would participate in a fundraiser at Dunaway's, a local restaurant, on Nov. 16. They will sign autographs and take photos with fans to help benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.So when Pagano showed up in the Colts' locker room Sunday without his grayish hair or trademark goatee, player director of engagement David Thornton decided to bring in a barber following Tuesday's practice.The idea was an immediate hit -- and seems to be growing larger by the day.About two dozen players, including kicker Adam Vinatieri, defensive end Cory Redding, Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea and punter Pat McAfee, left the team headquarters Tuesday night with no hair. It's a new look for McAfee, who had a ponytail until last fall when he cut it off and donated the hair to Locks of Love, a cancer charity."We haven't been together long... But we're in this together," McAfee wrote in a Twitter message.On Wednesday morning, more players joined the contingent, including Luck, the No. 1 overall draft pick and this week's AFC offensive player of the week.At this rate, all of the Colts could have a whole team without hair playing Thursday night at the Jaguars. Arians, one of Pagano's close friends and a prostate cancer survivor, doesn't have any hair, either, though he's donned that look all season.Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia on Sept. 26 and remained hospitalized for treatment until Oct. 21. He watched the next two Colts games from his home before doctors allowed him to attend Sunday's victory over Miami. Pagano watched the 23-20 victory from the coaches' box and spoke with his team before and after the game."I've got circumstances. You guys understand it, I understand it," Pagano said in an emotional postgame speech. "It's already beat. It's already beat. My vision that I'm living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then lift the Lombardi Trophy several times. I'm dancing at two more weddings and we're hoisting that trophy together, men. Congratulations, I love all of you."On Monday, Pagano's physician, Dr. Larry Cripe of the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, said Pagano was in "complete remission." Cripe said Pagano is still scheduled to have two more rounds of chemotherapy. The second round starts this week and will last four to six weeks, Cripe said.Arians has said the Colts hope to have Pagano back on the sideline Dec. 30, Indy's regular season finale against Houston.

Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

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Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

FOXBORO -- Stephen Gostkowski is almost 34 years old, but in Mexico City he provided a reminder that he's not slowing down in his 12th NFL season. 

After going four-for-four on field goals -- including a team-record 62-yarder, a 51-yarder and a 40-yarder -- and making all three of his extra points, Gostkowski was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the sixth time in his career. 

During a press conference on Wednesday, Bill Belichick explained that someone in Gostkowski's situation probably isn't improving at this point in his career. But if he's maintaining a strong level of play, that's OK. 

"I don’t know how much real improvement you’re going to see from a player that’s been in the league 12 or 20 years in a case like Adam [Vinatieri] or somebody like that," Belichick said. "But, if the level they’re performing at is pretty good, if they can maintain that, then that’s certainly enough to help the team.

"Are there things that a player can do better? Yeah, sure, there always are technique things. I think Steve has really improved in some of his alternative kicks on kickoffs, as an example, instead of just kicking every ball as far as he can. He’s done a great job of that. I’d say it’s maintaining the timing and the overall leg speed and technique that makes kickers good at their job."

Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

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Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

The Bruins seemed to discover a winning formula on the West Coast. Now the challenge is to keep it going.

It took them more than a month of play in the regular season, but they finally won two games in a row. Anton Khudobin and the B's played strong defense and finally built leads against the Kings and Sharks, and they avoided the kind of soft goal or defensive mistake that has been at the heart of so many of their losses.

Clearly that kind of tight, defensive game is how they're going have to play until they get their full lineup back, and they need plenty of wins. They're currently stuck in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

"It's always nice to get a couple of wins, especially against tough teams," said David Krejci, who is scoreless but averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time  in the two games since returning from a back injury. "We knew we had some areas of our game that we had to improve, and we still do after the start to the game we had against San Jose. It's nice to get two in a row, and we're focusing on three in [New Jersey]. We're building toward something, and we're on the right track. It's a big game [against the Devils].

"Playing with a lead, playing good defensively and having a good, structured game with everybody buying in . . . when you have a young team and you're playing strong clubs like LA and San Jose, it really says a lot about what we're trying to do here when you can get the job done."

The good news is the Bruins are going to make it through the Thanksgiving marker within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they're still just scratching the surface of what they need to do to stay relevant in the East. They're hoping that finally reeling off a couple of consecutive wins can start a run of good hockey at a time when they desperately need it.

"I think we've played as a five-man unit" said Kevan Miller. "Forwards are getting back to help the 'D', and defensemen are stepping up to help the forwards. When you play like that and everybody is on the same page, it makes it that much easier. I think everybody, whether you're coming from Providence or you're up here, has played the same systems, but it can be a little bit of a struggle to get everybody on the same page.

"We've done a pretty good job of that, but doing it for 60 minutes has been a bit of an issue. We're trying to work on that."

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