WILMINGTON, Mass. — It was just one two-man, two-coach on-ice workout, but it was enough to tell Boston Bruins goaltender Manny Fernandez that he’s almost out of the woods in terms of recovering from some back problems.

“I’m ready to go,” Fernandez declared after he and forward Petteri Nokelainen practiced with assistant coach Doug Houda and strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides at Ristuccia Arena this morning.¬† “I felt like I was ready to go a few days ago, but I think the main goal is to get my back as strong as possible before getting it out on the ice. So I think we’ve accomplished that over a week. I did a whole lot of exercises that are going to keep going for the rest of the season, but at least, to get a core a little stronger than I was.

“You weaken over a season,” he continued. “You play more games, your body kind of goes up and down – you have more strength, less strength depending on how many games you play.”

Fernandez took shots for the first time in a couple weeks today. He hadn’t even been on the ice for a week and a half before his light skate at TD Banknorth Garden Saturday. After today’s workout, he explained that his recent troubles weren’t a surprise when they arrived. After all, he hasn’t played a full NHL season since the 2005-06.

“I think my knee started the whole thing. Having to play so long with an injury just, I overcompensated just too much. Everything started to go on the right side because I didn’t want the injury to get worse. The minute we fixed that, all of a sudden I started playing a little more 100 percent, where my weight was 50-50,” said Fernandez who finally succumbed to the surgery in December 2007.

“You saw last year the way I played, it was basically 90 (on the right), 10 (on the left). And you can’t play like that; not at this level. And physically I did a lot of wrong on (the right) side.”

So now Fernandez will stick to a strict exercise regimen to keep his back¬† as fit as possible. There’ll be no more running or biking but plenty of work on the elliptical machine. And plenty of hockey.

“It’s only the beginning but it feels good. It feels like I’ve got range and it feels like I can actually get into a practice without getting my situation worse,” he said.