LANDOVER -- Washington right wing Peter Bondra had been eager for the Capitals SuperSkills Competition, but yesterday, after winning the fastest skater and hardest-shot competition with the second-best numbers recorded so far in the Eastern Conference, Bondra was subdued.
"I'd feel better about winning if we won some games," Bondra said. "But it was fun for the kids to see us skate. Everybody enjoyed it. Even the players."
But Bondra's attitude was noticeable among all the Capitals yesterday. Washington, which had started the NHL season so brilliantly with an 8-3 record, has lost four of its past five and is 9-7, and looking at games against Philadelphia here tomorrow and a home-and-home series with Pittsburgh on Friday and Saturday.
So not even for one fun-filled afternoon was the real game far from their thoughts. As the Capitals trooped off the ice, most of them kept their heads down. A few, like Joe Juneau, handed out a few high-fives, and Bondra answered the pleas of some children and signed autographs.
"You can't high-five everyone, so why disappoint some of them?" said Keith Jones, who was part of the White team yesterday that lost to the Blue by the overall score of 8-4. "It would have been better if we were winning. We'll be high-fiving a lot more when we start winning again."
Several Capitals did stop for as long as it took -- Kevin Kaminski, who won the accuracy shooting contest, hitting all four targets with just seven shots -- "Dale Hunter always tells me it's not how hard you shoot, it's where you shoot," said Kaminski of his success; goalie Olie Kolzig, who captained the winning Blue team; and Ken Klee, who challenged Bondra for the hardest shot with a blast of 90.3 mph.
Bondra nailed the fastest shot competition with a blast of 95.7 mph, which is second in the Eastern Conference to Montreal's Yves Sarault's 96.8.
In the speed skating competition, Bondra took the honors, completing his lap around the ice in 13.593 seconds.