Courtesy of Moon Golf Club

Sunday’s Best: Familiar faces plus one

CRANBERRY, Pa. — I'm free!

No, not in the way that I've just been released by the Raiders to sign with the Super Bowl champions, but in the way that we're at the point in September when hockey is on the schedule.

Don't get me wrong, I love to shoot all three major teams we cover. I love to shoot the Riverhounds. I love to just shoot. But this point in the year feels like freedom — the stars take the ice and I trade in shorts, t-shirts and sidelines for something long-sleeved over blue jeans and a hole in the glass.

I've looked forward to this time for my entire life. As a player, a fan and as a member of the media.

It's hockey season.

There's something different when you show up to work and Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are on the ice. It's different than development camp. It's different than when the prospects take the ice. And the Penguins as a whole? Well, yeah ... they're a little bit different this year, too.

Not all of the new faces were there yet -- I still haven't photographed Brandon Tanev or Dominik Kahun, and won't now until Friday -- but Alex Galchenyuk was. And these informal skates are great for shooting faces. They're more casual workouts. Guys can stand around, drift, skip turns in drills, etc. So they make great targets for stocking up on portraits for features we'll publish throughout the season.

That's mostly what you'll see here. Tight shots, faces, isolated action. When you're looking at Letang up there, and it looks like he has cut his hair ... don't worry, he hasn't -- which I felt inclined to report immediately after talking to him:

Just trimmed up the sides and still ready for a season of bearded, long-haired photos.

Oh ... and there is one Kasper Bjorkvist photo looking like he needed to find a gym. Just because. See you guys and gals in the comments.

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