He's not alone, but Thomas Vanek certainly didn't see this coming.

"How can you?" he said Saturday after the Sabres concluded practice as the last-place team in the Eastern Conference. "You look at this team, and it's a good team. We played like it at the start of the year and slowly fell apart."

The slide toward oblivion has sped up for Buffalo, which hosts Pittsburgh in a rare 12:30 matinee today. The Sabres are winless in their last four games and have fallen to 15th in the East.

Vanek, meanwhile, has fallen off his scorching offensive pace. The Sabres' perennial goal-scoring leader has just two goals and four points in his last 15 games.

"A lot of it is obviously confidence," he said in First Niagara Center. "I'm just trying to focus on playing the game hard, get pucks deep and keep grinding it out. I'm sure [confidence is down], especially when you're not winning. Like I said, you try and just work hard, get to the net, get rebounds and tips, and try to find your game again."

Since missing four games with an upper-body injury in mid-January, Vanek has been trying to find his game on nearly every line. He started at right wing alongside center Tyler Ennis and left wing Matt Ellis during Friday's shootout loss to Montreal. He was the right winger for Ennis and Nathan Gerbe on Thursday in Philadelphia.