He's No. 1. Or was, last year. He would like to be again this time.

Dave Parro spent 52 nights dodging pucks for the Washington Capitals during 1981-82. In a practice game today, Parro was diving and scrambling and building up an appetite for doing the same job this year.

He wants it. "Yeah, last year I did get a little tired, a little frustrated," Parro said. "But my main objective here is to be on the team and play well for myself. And I see a battle for goaltending spots."

Besides Parro, six men are here clunking around in goalie pads. "They (Washington management) are saying there'll be two goalies in Washington, two in Hershey (on the Capitals farm club)," Parro said. "From what I've seen, four guys are playing well. It's a question of who is where."

Parro is impressed with Al Jensen, who played 16 games for the Capitals last year; Robbie Moore, a tiny dynamo who played briefly for the Philadelphia Flyers several years ago, and Pat Riggin, who came to Washington from Calgary in June. And, of course, he's reasonably pleased by his own performance.

"I'm trying to become more aggressive, to challenge shooters more this year," he said. "We're all just working to get ourselves into position."

Riggin, who played 52 games last season in Calgary, is confident of a place in Washington. He makes no secret of wanting the top slot, but said, "I don't think it'll be a real clear-cut No. 1, No. 2 situation till the season gets going. But with an 80-game schedule, you need two goalies, right?"

"Both (Riggin and Parro) appear to be real competitors," Coach Bryan Murray said. "Whoever ends up being our No. 1 goalie will be the guy who played best, and he will have earned it."

Questioned on the other goalie hopefuls, Murray said, "Al Jensen has played well for us. I don't know much about Robbie Moore, but he has also played so well here. (However) it would be pretty tough for a young kid to knock out two goalies of that caliber (Parro and Riggin). But again, nothing is for sure yet."

Murray said last season's workload forced Parro to "play tired" too often. "He'd work so hard in practice, too, it caught up to him," he said. "If this year, we can play him a while, then give him a break, it'll help make Davey Parro a better goaltender."

Riggin agrees. "Before the year is out, I'll need Davey and he'll need me. You really don't want to play too much more than 52 games, and if we can each get 25 wins, great."

Riggin blithely predicts he and Parro will be the Washington pair. "Al Jensen, Robbie Moore, Jeff Wilson, they're all giving us good depth," he said. "But a young goalie really has to stand out to catch the eye of a coach."

The surplus goalie corps pleases Terry Murray, assistant coach. "I don't think you can ever have too many goalies," he said. "You can keep them, get them all some ice time during the season -- they're insurance. And good goalies are hard to come by."

A week ago, the Capitals sent Mike Palmateer to Toronto, shortening the goalie cargo by one. Of that move, Parro said, "You hate to see any goaltender leave, but if a team has three good goalies, and only two play regularly, I don't think it works."

Riggin agrees. "I was in a three-goalie situation, and sitting in the stands is no fun." Battling it out for No. 1 is.

Washington plays New Jersey here Friday, travels to Hartford Saturday and plays the Whalers again here Sunday night . . . Parro says all the practice has players in -- or almost -- midseason condition . . . Told some team members were playing tennis evenings, Murray said, "You mean they're not tired enough?"