Surely you understand the difference between an individual pace, and a team pace. First, it's much easier for an individual to go on a hot or cold streak. They're just one person, for a team to go on a hot streak you need *20* guys all performing at peak efficiency.
Yet teams do in fact go on hot and cold streaks frequently. A .500 team doesn't pick up 10 points in every 10 game stretch, just like a 40 goal scorer doesn't score 5 goals in every 10 game stretch.
Besides, if you're going to make a claim like that, I'd like to see some statistical analysis to back it up. Like take a look at blocks of games, and the distribution of winning % for various teams, compared to distribution of scoring rate for a significant sample of players. Of course, even that doesn't factor in very important factors such as injuries which can effect both.
Yet if you think about basic statistics for a second ... assume that individual players' level of play is fairly even across the board in terms of distribution of hot vs. cold play over the course of a season.
Now, if the effect of multiple players is additive, the distrubition of level of play on team levels will be identical to the individual players' distributions and thus disprove your claim. If you graph them, the players' curve will look identical to the team one, just on a different scale.
OTOH, if the effect of individual players on team success is synergistic, the effects on winning % would be even MORE dramatic ... in both directions. Which means, of course, that the argument you've made against a team possibly getting hot, is also an argument against teams ever going cold. Yet there's been a whole slew of teams this year that have gotten red hot, and gone ice cold this season.
The only way it comes out the way you suggest is if individual good/bad performances have minimal effect on team success ... but in that case, you wouldn't see much difference in winning % between ANY teams, either contenders or cellar dwellers, since individuals would have so little impact on games.
Secondly, there's a *huge* difference between projecting at the half way mark as compared to the three quarter mark. The closer you get to the end of the season, the more accurate the projections get.
Yes, as a simple matter of sample size. But a lot of factors go into those projections ... injuries, bad years from key players, etc. can have a big impact over a large portion of the season, which can skew numbers significantly, even at the 50-60 game mark. Heck, they can seriously impact things even at the 82 game mark.
Finally, remember that every game that is played *guarantees* at least two points being handed out in the standings, possibly three. With the way the schedules are created, and teams playing the majority of their games against teams in the same conference, the result is that it's a mathematical certainty that the 8th place team will have a given number of points. Barring a mathmatical proof, we have to rely on repeated trials to tell us what that point is. History has shown that's around the 90 point mark since the OTL point came in. And surprise surprise, that's exactly where everybody is headed for again this year.
Yes, which is why I still expect the Ducks to come up short, even if they play like they're capable the rest of the way. But I'd like to see proof that individuals are more or less susceptible to hot and cold streaks than teams as a whole.