ST. LOUIS, JAN. 15 -- Today was Terry Murray's first anniversary. No, not his wedding anniversary. He and his wife, Linda, have been together a bit longer than that.

Instead, it was one year ago today that Murray became coach of the Washington Capitals, replacing his brother, Bryan.

"I didn't even realize it until Ron Weber {the team's radio broadcaster} mentioned it in Montreal," Murray said before tonight's 7-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

"It's hard to believe it's been a year already. Everything goes so fast and it keeps going. There's no opportunity to slow down and think about what's happened in the past. It's always what's happening in the future."

Well, let's review. The Capitals were 18-24-4 when Terry took over for Bryan, who was fired and has since taken over as coach and general manager in Detroit.

The Capitals recovered enough to make the playoffs, but they finished with their first regular season losing record (36-38-6) since 1981-82.

However, once in the playoffs, the team enjoyed the type of success it never experienced under Bryan Murray, reaching the Stanley Cup semifinals before losing to the Boston Bruins.

Terry Murray then saw his team undergo traumatic changes on and off the ice. After the first 47 games of this season they are in fifth place in the Patrick Division. At 21-24-2, they are two points ahead of where they were at this point last season.

"I've certainly enjoyed it and the players have been good to work with," Murray said. "This year, there was really only one game that we were not in {a 9-4 loss in Calgary in October}, and that's a big part of the business." Lots of Meetings

General Manager David Poile went from the general managers' meetings in Phoenix to Marco Island, Fla., for meetings with the team's scouts.

When 21 general managers gather, much of the talk involves possible trades, but there was very little action on that front. Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto completed deals soon afterward, but that was about it. Asked if anybody made him any good offers, Poile said: "Not for a reasonable price."

The midwinter scouting meetings usually are held in Landover. "It was a good break for guys who see upwards of 200 games a year," Poile said of his scouts. The discussions mostly centered on which players the Capitals want to focus on in the June entry draft.

Washington will have two first-round draft picks this year (and next year, if not the next five years). The extra this year comes from St. Louis as compensation in the Scott Stevens deal. . . .

The slump in the real estate market affects everyone, including hockey players. This summer, Peter Zezel and Mike Lalor went to Washington, with Stevens and Geoff Courtnall coming to the Blues.

To avoid having to sell his home at a depressed price, Stevens is renting Zezel's house in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, while Courtnall and Lalor are renting each other's homes in Maryland and St. Louis, respectively. . . . Alan May and Bob Joyce were scratched from the lineup tonight.