Archie Henderson knows only one way to play hockey. He tries to "clag" people.

Clag, according to Funk and Wagnalls, means "to clog," which in turn means "to choke up or obstruct." That is a pretty good definition of Henderson hockey.

Henderson is 6-foot-6, weighs 220 pounds and gives his teammates a feeling of well-being. Opponents generally try to keep out of his way, unless the name is Behn (Toby) Wilson, 6-3, 210, with a record of never having lost a hockey fight.

Henderson took on Wilson twice in Philadelphia Sunday and if he did not win either time, he was not a one-sided loser either. Capital teammates, glad to see Wilson's wrath occupied elsewhere, afterward were lavish in praise of Henderson's role in Washington's surprising 6-0 victory.

The Philly contest marked Henderson's NHL debut, after four years of believing he could play in the NHL Capital management, knowing his scarcity of skills, nevertheless was impressed by his heart and tonight Henderson finally will skate in a Washington uniform at Capital Centre, as the New York Rangers provide the 8 o'clock opposition.

"Toby Wilson is the toughest guy in the league and I've never seen him lose a fight, but Archie took him on and held his own. That had to give everybody a lift," said Bob Kelly, no shrinking violet himself.

"I think Archie displayed enough on Sunday to warrant another look. He will be in the lineup against the Rangers," said General Manager Max McNab.

Chris Kotsopoulos and Ed Hospodar will be in Ranger uniforms and it is likely that Henderson's ice time will be used so that he is out against them. Those two, along with equally belligerent but more skilled Barry Beck, noticeably affected the Capital's enthusiasm in a 6-2 loss in New York two weeks ago.

If Henderson's role is to neutralize opposing bully boys, rather than score goals, he does not mind, just so long as he does it in the NHL. He did not appreciate the fact that in four visits to the Washington training camp, he never once suited up as a Capital, even in an exhibition.

Hershey General Manager Frank Mathers likes to tell the story of how he called Henderson to his office last year to tell him he was being demoted to Port Huron, Mich. -- an assignment later altered to Fort Worth.

"I had him up there and I was trying to explain to him how he wasn't good enough for Hershey and all he was telling me was how he ought to be playing in Washington," Mathers said. "One thing Archie has a lot of is confidence."

"I've always thought I could play in Washington," Henderson said. "I felt bad when I never got a chance. Now, all of a sudden, the way it's happened, I can hardly believe it.I waited four years to come up and right away I'm part of history, the first win over Philly."

Despite his emphasis on hockey's physical aspect, Henderson has tried hard to become a better all-around player. Two years ago, he attended Laura Stamm's power-skating school in Penticton, British Columbia, and also took ballet lessons.

"The guys kidded me about it, but that ballet really helped me," Henderson said."I'm a big guy and my body is a little hard to control. That helped me bend my knees and gave me better balance."

It was Henderson who waffled Blair Stewart into the boards in a camp scrimmage in 1977, requiring knee surgery for Stewart, but it was as a victim that he participated in what has become an infamous example of hockey violence. tAs a rookie in Port Huron that winter, Henderson suffered a concussion and a broken nose when he was struck in the head by the stick of Willie Trognitz. a

"He just about killed me," Henderson said. "It was the worst I've ever seen. You never expect something like that. But it's all in the past. It hasn't affected me. I'm still playing the same. It's the only way I know." h

Bengt Gustafsson will skate this morning to determine whether his back has recovered sufficiently for him to play. . . Behind the Ranger bench will be Craig Patrick, who scored nine goals in 75 games as a Capital. Coaching the Rangers, he has been far more successful: 8-4-2 . . . The Capitals open a four-game road trip Saturday night in Montreal.