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Hall could return to Devils lineup next week

Reigning Hart Trophy winner has been out since Dec. 23 because of lower-body injury

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Taylor Hall could return to the New Jersey Devils lineup as early as next week.

Hall hasn't skated since sustaining a lower-body injury Dec. 23, but coach John Hynes said Thursday the forward could be back before the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game at SAP Center in San Jose on Jan. 26 (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, CBC, TVAS).

"He's definitely moving in the right direction and progressing well," Hynes said. "Right now we just have to evaluate him every day until the break."

The Devils play their last game before the All-Star Game against the Anaheim Ducks at Prudential Center on Jan. 19. They have four days off before the All-Star break begins Jan. 24.

Hall, who missed his eighth straight game when the Devils lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 at Prudential Center on Thursday, was first injured during practice Dec. 13. He missed the next two games before returning Dec. 18 but re-aggravated the injury against the Columbus Blue Jackets five days later and hasn't played since.

"It's important that we know exactly what [the injury] is, and he as the player knows exactly what it is and feels comfortable, and we feel like we have that diagnosed," Hynes said. "It's a situation where once he gets back skating, it's not going to be too long before he plays."

Hall, chosen by the NHL Hockey Operations Department to represent the Metropolitan Division in San Jose, missed the 2018 All-Star Game because of a hand injury. He was replaced by teammate Brian Boyle.

Hall, who won the Hart Trophy voted as the NHL most valuable player last season, leads the Devils with 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games this season.

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