After Pittsburgh’s Brandon Tanev was ejected for boarding, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby spoke out.

“I saw one quick replay. I didn’t think he had any intent there,” said Crosby. “I hope Tinordi’s okay. He went in pretty awkward. But I don’t think there was any intent. I thought he hit him clean. He hit him timely as far as the puck being there. [Tinordi] did go in awkwardly, so you never like to see that. But I didn’t think that it warranted a five-minute [major penalty].”

Tanev with given a major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding Boston’s Jarred Tinordi.

“The refs are out there, they’re trying to protect us and keep us safe. I get it,” Crosby added. “I can see them trying to do that. But I didn’t see it that way. Unfortunately, we had to go down. We got a big [penalty] kill there. I hope he’s okay.”

Boston has not provided an update on Tinordi’s condition.

“I hope as players we get some clarity on what’s a good hit and what’s not,” Crosby said. “It’s tough to really gauge when you’re out there. I know it’s fast, but, right now, it’s really hard to know what is in fact clean and what’s not. And when you’re out there playing, it’s important that you do know that.”

“If they’re going to err on the side of protecting us, I don’t think I’m ever going to argue that as a player. Especially with Tinordi being hurt and seeing him go in awkwardly. I get it. It’s just understanding that. You see some hits throughout the league, especially in the first half of the season here, it’s hard as a player to know. We look at a hit and we think, ‘Oh, that’s a suspension,’ and it’s not. Or we think it’s a penalty and it’s not. Then you see a hit like that, you don’t expect a five-minute major and it ends up being one.”

“I think it seems like it’s a little gray right now.”

While the refs handed out punishment on the ice, the hit did not appear to rise to the standard required for supplementary discipline from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety – who, notably, have done a terrific job of explaining suspensions and even the occasional non-suspension.

It would do some good if the NHL could consider a similar approach with the on-ice officials, even if only providing an explanation to a pool reporter – or via an officiating supervisor – after the game. It’s not that they need to defend the call as much as to help others understand the situation.

Crosby asked for precisely that. Understanding.

“Again, I’m never going to argue with them protecting us because that’s what I think they’re trying to do, but i think it’s important that we understand [the calls].”