EDMONTON, AB - Mikko Koskinen's 2018-19 NHL season started and ended in Calgary, and the hulking Finn believes the goalie he is at the end of it is a much improved, smarter netminder.
After conceding the first goal just 23 seconds into his Oilers pre-season debut on September 17 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the 6-foot-7 crease protector closed out the season on a high note 202 days later by making 30 saves on 31 shots in a 3-1 win over the Flames on Saturday's season finale.
"I think I'm a better goalie now," Koskinen said during his exit interview with the media in the Oilers Hall of Fame room on Sunday. "I made some improvements, and there's still a lot to improve."
In between those bookends, Koskinen was given a new three-year deal and took the reigns as the Oilers starter, finishing the year with a 25-21-6 record, a 2.96 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage, and manning the net for 25 of the club's final 27 games.
But for such a big guy in goal, Koskinen is preaching the little things heading into this offseason after having the majority of work in goal fall his direction.
Video: RAW | Koskinen 04.07.19
"I played a tonne, and as a guy who preaches repetition and consistency in practice, the workload took a toll," he said. "I don't feel like I got tired, but it was tough because there wasn't a lot of time for practice.
"It's easier knowing you're going to play every game, but you have to find a rhythm between when you practice and when you play. It's something I think I can do a little bit better in the future."
Koskinen prioritized repetition during the season with Oilers Goaltending Coach Dustin Schwartz after making the move to the smaller ice surfaces of North America from Europe.
"When you start losing those details, then it's tough to fix it in a game. I think that's what happened in the last two to three weeks," he continued.
A return to his home in Helsinki, Finland this offseason will involve plenty of consultation with personal and team goalie coaches that include Schwartz, who will work in consultation with Mikko and his other coaches to work on the finer details.
"I have my own goalie coach in Finland who I've worked with for almost 10 years. He's going to be with me all summer and probably Schwartz will come over to Finland too," Koskinen said. "I'll come over here pretty much the same time as last year."
The IIHF World Championship this May in Slovakia is on the radar of Koskinen, who's already spoken with Finnish National Team Head Coach Jere Lehtinen about his potential involvement for his country in the competition.
"I've talked with him, but I haven't made a final decision yet," Koskinen said.