NOW IT'S hockey's Capitals. If somebody doesn't take a financial liking to the Caps fairly soon, the only ice at the Capital Centre will be in the drinks. It isn't a matter of team owner Abe Pollin's losing interest; he's losing millions--almost $20 million over the eight-year life of this team--and no matter how dedicated this man is to this city, that gets to be an expensive hobby.

The Caps, too, are good at losing, which has something--but not everything--to do with Mr. Pollin's predicament. Their foremost distinction is their unbroken success in avoiding the National Hockey League playoffs, the annual post-season games that are about as exclusive as a bus stop at rush hour.

So why bother to seek a financial version of CPR to save the Caps? Like so many of us around town, Mr. Pollin wants to believe that Washington is a major-league city, where professional sports can and should flourish. But right now, he needs somebody else's money alongside his own if there is to be another season. And if that happens, perhaps there can be some new thinking about how to fill the Capital Centre for hockey. Lower prices, for example, might pay off in greater volume; as it stands, a family of four may shell out $60 to $70 for one evening. Transportation is another serious drawback. Without subway service, the management should consider special bus service for group or regular ticket-holders.

Not only would the loss of the Caps be a blow to hockey fans, but it also could affect the Bullets and anything else that is part of the Capital Centre calendar of events each year. That is all the more reason for Greater Washington to hope for help in a hurry.