One final look at the four San Jose Sharks players at Sochi 2014 after Sunday's gold medal game before they get back to business Thursday at the Philadelphia Flyers:

ANTTI NIEMI: Celebrated with his Team Finland teammates after Saturday night's 5-0 bronze medal victory over the USA. Then he took one of the NHL Players Association's two chartered planes back to the States on Sunday afternoon. Not sure whether he was on the same plane as Sharks teammate Joe Pavelski. But if so, they probably could have had an interesting conversation.

Canada’s Patrick Marleau (12) takes a shot against Sweden’s Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) and Sweden’s Gabriel Landeskog (92) in the first
Canada's Patrick Marleau (12) takes a shot against Sweden's Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) and Sweden's Gabriel Landeskog (92) in the first period for the Gold medal match for Men's Ice Hockey at the Bolshoy Ice Dome for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) ( Nhat V. Meyer )

JOE PAVELSKI: Professional athletes have an ability to compartmentalize. So it's possible Pavelski already has stuck the dismal bronze medal game in a box and put it away on a shelf. But it must be difficult. The repercussions from the USA's exit will rattle around USA Hockey headquarters for a while. Several players were indeed passengers vs. Finland, but Pavelski wasn't one -- he sold out to block shots and was digging for pucks until the end. Dan Bylsma, the USA coach, did not earn plaudits for his strategy moves against either Canada or Finland. Pavelski had some great moments in the Olympic tournament, including that memorable goal against Russia. And he still owns the silver medal from Vancouver 2010.


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PATRICK MARLEAU: The 3-0 gold medal victory over Sweden, as well as the entire Olympic tournament, had to be a terrifically satisfying experience for Marleau. Last summer, he was so far off Team Canada's radar that he wasn't even among the 47 players invited to the group's preseason orientation camp. But after earning a roster spot with his hard work for the Sharks during the first part of the NHL season, Marleau wound up playing a key role in Sochi.

Canada’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) looks to pass the puck against Sweden in the second period for the Gold medal match for Men’s Ice Hockey at
Canada's Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) looks to pass the puck against Sweden in the second period for the Gold medal match for Men's Ice Hockey at the Bolshoy Ice Dome for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) ( Nhat V. Meyer )
His selection was said to be influenced greatly by coach Mike Babcock's preference for speed and puck control. Marleau, Jonathan Toews and Jeff Carter were Canada's most consistently effective forward line from the quarterfinals onward, using their swiftness better than any other line to forecheck on the big ice surface. Marleau finished the Olympics with four points (all assists) and a shiny gold medal around his neck. He beamed as he sang Canada's national anthem at the medal ceremony. "Yeah, I sang," he said. "You can't not sing." Marleau now owns two gold medals, including the one from Vancouver in 2010.

MARC-EDOUARD VLASIC: He palpably played with more confidence as the tournament progressed, playing as Drew Doughty's defensive partner. And while Vlasic failed to get on the scoresheet in any game, he took eight shots in the six games and finished the Olympics with a plus-3 in the plus-minus category. It was touching to see him point to his wife and parents in the crowd before the medal ceremony. They had pondered not coming to Sochi, given the security worries, but decided to make the trip. They witnessed Vlasic winning his first Olympic medal.

-- Mark Purdy