Tom McVie is still jogging on a regular basis because, he said yesterday, "It's about the only thing that gives me a little peace of mind." After his team's dreary 8-3 loss to the Kings here Wednesday night, back-to-back marathons may be in order for the Capitals' beleagnered coach.

"I don't know what the answer is," McVie said after watching his hockey team fall behind, 80, before scoring three goals in the last 21 minutes, hardly much consolation.

"I could lie to you and tell you the last period helped us, that it was something to think positive about," he said, "but I won't do that. Yes, we had some effort in the end, but they're protecting a lead and they don't have much incentive. So it meant nothing, absolutely noting. It was too little, too late."

And so, the Capitals dragged their weary bodies and battered bones onto a midnight flight to Baltimore with another woeful streak to think about as they prepare for a visit to Long Island Saturday for a game with the Islanders.

The Capital have won only once in their last 14 games, and if they continue the sort of play they exhibited against the Kings, that string is going to get longer.

"It was just a matter of sloppy defense and giveaways," said Capital General Manager Max McNab. "The defense has been playing pretty well lately, but now it looks like we've got more problems."

He was referring to still another injury to the Capitals' banged-up pool of defensemen. Gord Lane is now hobbling on a sore ankle incurred the previous night aginst Vancouver. He skated on shift against the Kings, but was unable to go the rest of the night. McNab said Lane would be enamined today in Washington and also indicated he was contemplataing some changes on the roster before the weekend.

"We've got some guys bruised up.We play the Islanders and then Buffalo and I don't think we can stand pat," McNab said. "We'll do something; we have to."

If McVie had his way, the Capitals would charter a few hundred buses to transport their faithful followers to visiting rinks on the team's current six-game road trip.

"We are working as hard as the other clubs in the league but that is not sufficient this year," he said. "With the new wild-card playoff set up, it seems like every rink you go into, nobody lets up. They just keep pounding at you.

"For our club to have a chance, we need the Rose Bowl, the excitement of the crowd, the big bands. We need to be emotionally high for all our games, and to keep a club emotionally high for 80 games is almost impossible."

McVie was concerned about the emotions of young goalie Jim Bedard against the Kings. After Bedard was shelled by four goals and 16 Los ANgeles shots in the first period, McVie replaced him with Bernie Wolfe.

"I just saw L.A. bitizing, and I wanted to get him out of there," McVie said. "He'd played our last six games and he'd had enough. Bernie needed the work and, considering the circumstances, he did a good job for us."

While McVie and McNab were seeking answers, over in the Los Angeles locker room, former Capital Hartland Monaham was only too happy to provide a few.

"It look like they're still working hard," he said, "but they seem to be missing something. Maybe they've made some mistakes in the way the team is being run. When I was with them in camp, I thought this was going to be the year, but things started to go wrong, and from the looks of it, they're still wrong.

"It doesn't look like they have the same feeling we had last year. We got a little taste of what it was like to win and that made those two-bour practices a lota easier to take. But if you don't win, who the hell wants to go skate for two hours you hardly even want to show up for the games."