Although the Washington Capitals' ticket prices have more than doubled since the team entered the National Hockey League, the overall scale remains the lowest in the NHL.

The Capitals charged $8.50, $6.50 and $4 in 1974. The new rates this fall are $17, $15 and $9.50. Season ticket holders, of whom there are now a record 6,900, receive substantial discounts.

Nine teams charge $20 or more for certain tickets, with a select group of 80 fans here in Calgary honored by shelling out the NHL's highest stipend of $44. That is in Canadian funds, but it still sounds like more than the 2-3 Flames are worth.

Not only do the Islanders' $26 tickets lead the Patrick Division, their secondary price of $21 also eclipses any other seat in the six-team group. Other Patrick tops: Philadelphia, $20.50; Rangers and New Jersey, $19, and Pittsburgh, $18, which matches the Islanders' cheapest seat.

The St. Louis Blues installed 18 new seats at ice level and in the process reduced the width of the visiting team bench.

"Even without a spare goalie, when we put all 13 guys who weren't on the ice in there, we couldn't open the door," said General Manager Max McNab of New Jersey, the first team to visit St. Louis.

When McNab produced a 1984 rule book prescribing benches of equal size for both teams, St. Louis General Manager Ron Caron said, "Is that a new rule book?" He knew it wasn't, because the NHL has not yet published a rule book for this season.

To settle the dispute temporarily and permit the game to proceed, the Blues and Devils changed benches.

There no longer is any need to worry about the long-term results of games between teams in the Patrick and Adams divisions. Home ice in both conference championships and the Stanley Cup final will be determined strictly by the regular-season points of the teams involved.

The change should help the Patrick winner, since the Adams invariably leads the interdivisional standings. So far, only Washington (2-1-1) has earned a point against Adams teams, with the rest of the Patrick going 0-5.

In another change, the 2-3-2 format of the Stanley Cup final has been altered to 2-2-1-1-1. That adjustment was directly related to the flops of the Islanders and Flyers during long weeks in Edmonton the past two seasons.

For the first time, the starting players in the NHL All-Star Game, to be played Feb. 4 at Hartford, will be determined by fan vote.

Ballots will be available at NHL arenas and Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth dealers from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31. Capitals on the ballot include goalie Pat Riggin, defensemen Rod Langway and Scott Stevens, left wing Bengt Gustafsson (now playing center), center Bob Carpenter and right wing Mike Gartner.

Defenseman Timo Blomqvist, sent to Binghamton by the Capitals Oct. 9, was benched by Larry Pleau, the coach of the 0-5 Whalers, after he was responsible for two Rochester goals in a recent loss.

"I'm having a little problem getting my mind into the game," Blomqvist explained.

Guy Charron, known as the Franchise when he played for the Capitals from 1976 to 1981, is serving as an assistant coach with the Canadian Olympic team, which is based here . . . Center Mike Eaves, 29, of the Calgary Flames has announced his retirement. Eaves decided to play it safe after suffering the 10th concussion of his hockey career.