Flyers' Tortorella praises Hart: 'It's hard to be a goaltender with us'
And not just the position of goaltender in general - which is physically and mentally demanding - with the coach saying he understands how hard it is to play for this Flyers team specifically.
Philadelphia has opened the scoring just three times in Hart's 19 starts this season. The club again surrendered the first goal just 3:50 into Monday's 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche but quickly responded to pull ahead before the end of the first period and never relinquished the lead. Tortorella said he believes the early cushion gave Hart a sense of calmness.
"I'm sure Carter felt pretty good, where he has a two- or three-goal lead. He hasn't had much of that during the year," Tortorella said postgame. "The situation we've been in this year, it's hard to be a goaltender with us. We just have not been able to give him run support."
The Flyers are averaging just 2.58 goals per game when Hart's been between the pipes. It's largely why the goaltender's record is 8-7-4 despite a stellar .911 save percentage (league average was .905 entering Monday).
But it's not just the lack of goal support making it difficult to play net for Philadelphia. The Flyers entered Monday allowing 3.69 expected goals per 60 minutes - the fourth-worst mark in the league, per Evolving-Hockey.
However, Hart entered the evening ranked third among all NHL goalies with 13.29 goals saved above expected - a metric that factors in the level of shot difficulty goalies face.
But Tortorella - a notoriously stingy defensive coach - is still working to find his team's identity, which, in turn, would make life easier for Hart.
"We still got some ways to go to find out who we are," he said.